Pressure to achieve perfection, political blackmail and forgiveness are all aspects of life explored in the second theater production of the 2012-13 season for NIU’s School of Theatre and Dance.
Oscar Wilde’s “An Ideal Husband” runs from Thursday, Oct. 18, through Sunday, Oct. 21, and from Thursday, Oct. 25, through Sunday, Oct. 28, in the Stevens Building O’Connell Theatre.
The play examines the personal and public lives of London’s late 1800s social elite. The action takes place in a 24-hour period, beginning with a dinner party hosted by Sir Robert Chiltern. When a female guest tries to blackmail Sir Robert, dirty details of the characters’ relationships come to light.
Jack Hickey, artistic director for Oak Park Festival Theatre in Oak Park, Ill., is the guest director for “An Ideal Husband.” He said he has not experienced a significant difference between working with professional actors and NIU students.
“These students are prepared, and they’re willing to listen to their director,” Hickey said, adding that the production could hold its own in Chicago.
Hickey said he thinks the audience will most enjoy the humor in the play.
Because Wilde wrote the play in 1895, however, Hickey said the language is different than what modern audiences are used to hearing. “You do have to listen a little bit more than you would normally,” Hickey said. “But if you’re listening carefully, a lot of these offhand comments are very funny.”
The play explores the consequences people face for their good or bad actions and decisions, said NIU theater student and stage manager Stephanie Vera. Honesty is rewarded; dishonesty leads to complications and conflicts among characters in the play.
Even though the play has serious parts, she addd, the guest director plays up a lot of the humor to create a balance for the audience.
Hickey has an organic way of working, allowing the actors and crew to bounce ideas off one another. Every member of the cast and crew contributed to the final product in some way, she said.
“An Ideal Husband” will stage in the Stevens Building O’Connell Theatre on the NIU campus. Weeknight and Saturday performances begin at 7:30 p.m. with a Sunday matinee at 2 p.m. Tickets are $16 for adults, $13 for seniors and $8 for students.
Tickets for “An Ideal Husband” are available online or by contacting the School of Theatre and Dance box office, open from noon to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and noon to 2 p.m. Friday, at (815) 753-1600 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.