“It’s true that it’s a coming of age story, but it’s a little more than that. It’s the coming of age story of an artist,” Director Patricia Skarbinski said about her upcoming theater production, “Look Homeward, Angel,” based on the novel of the same name by author Thomas Wolfe.
Opening Thursday, March 27, the Northern Illinois University School of Theatre and Dance will present Ketti Fring’s adaptation of the Wolfe novel in the Huntley Middle School Auditorium, 1515 S. First St. in DeKalb.
An authentic American classic, Wolfe’s novel is generally considered to be semi-autobiographical and tells the story of a young man growing up and out of the fictional town of Altamont, easily recognizable as Wolfe’s hometown of Asheville, N.C.
Wolfe is personified in the character of Eugene Gant, a young dreamer struggling with the conflict between honoring and remaining in the home and family life where he finds himself stuck, and breaking away to become a writer in the bigger outside world.
Ketti Fring’s adaptation of the work was the winner of the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best American play in 1958. It is set in 1916, right before America enters World War I, but it is an American story that today’s society can still relate to, Skarbinski said.
She relates the themes of the play to what many SoTD students are trying to pursue in their education. “Coming to terms with one’s past is essential in order to become more capable of pursuing yourself as an artist,” she said. “This is a great show for college.”
“Look Homeward, Angel” captures the sardonic humor and the grief, both private and universal, about a becoming an adult.
“It’s all about the breaking away that undergraduates experience – about respecting where our parents have brought us to, but at the same time acknowledging that to grow up is to find one’s own voice,” she said.
This production is not affiliated with DeKalb Community Unit School District 428.
The play runs over two weeks, from Thursday, March 27, through Sunday, March 30, and from Thursday, April 3, through Saturday, April 5. Performances are 7:30 p.m. weekdays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. on Sunday and the second Saturday.