Theatre to stage ‘Not About Nightingales’

Photo of hands and arms reaching through prison cell barsPresenting the fifth production of its seven-show 2012-2013 Mainstage Series, the NIU School of Theatre and Dance will stage an early play by Tennessee Williams.

“Not About Nightingales” opens Thursday, Feb. 21, in the Stevens Building O’Connell Theatre.

Williams’ fourth play, “Not About Nightingales” is not as well-known as many of his later plays, because it remained unpublished and unperformed until 1998.

Based on actual events, “Not About Nightingales” is a story about liberty, human rights, love and abuse of power and is based on what was described at the time as one of the worst prison horrors in American history.

“This is a picture, an insight into prison life in the 1930s during the Depression,” said director Patricia Ridge. “It’s an unlikely love story which thrives, despite the underlying quarrel.”

Brandon Greenhouse, who plays the role of Jim in the play, said “Not About Nightingales” is a cautionary tale about what happens when too much power is given to the wrong people.

The prison warden brutalizes the inmates, both emotionally and physically. In revolt against the mistreatment, the inmates declare a hunger strike. As events worsen toward being out of control, a contrasting romance begins to develop between one of the convicts leading the hunger strike and the warden’s secretary.

“Through the play, we are able to see what prison costs in terms of relationships and human suffering and come to understand how the penal system corrupts,” Ridge said.

She said the play is being presented for mature audiences only.

“Not About Nightingales” stages from Thursday, Feb. 21, through Sunday, Feb. 24, and from Thursday, Feb. 28, through Sunday, March 3. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. weekdays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays in the Stevens Building O’Connell Theatre on the DeKalb campus.

Tickets are $16 for adults, $13 for seniors and $8 for students. Tickets can be purchased online or at the O’Connell Theatre box office from 12 noon until 5 p.m. weekdays by calling (815) 753-1600. Walk-up tickets can also be purchased one hour before curtain times.

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