The School of Theatre and Dance at NIU opens its 2016-2017 Mainstage Series with Out of the Blue, by Vladimir Zaitsev, a play based on the real-life experiences of a Russian teenager who announced to his parents that he was gay and became the focus of an international rescue mission.
Set in a culture where laws ban “propaganda” that threatens traditional family values, this controversial play stunned Russian audiences, leading to warnings of shutdowns by the authorities, bomb threats and a government investigation. Out of the Blue will be performed at Huntley Middle School Auditorium, opening on Sept. 22.
Guest director Colin Jackson is on loan from Chicago’s Organic Theatre Company. He is focused on presenting this play in a way that shows the storyline is not exclusive to any one culture. The main character (the son) is left unnamed, to show that prejudice can happen to anyone, anywhere.
According to Jackson, it is the fear of differences that cause people to react in especially destructive ways. Out of the Blue demonstrates how anger has a habit of muddying things up and can block any path to understanding.
The main character’s revelation about his sexual orientation is so reviled by his family, he is incarcerated until he can be “cured,” as was the boy upon which the character is based.
“Out of the Blue aims to expose the truth,” Jackson says. “No matter how open minded people think they are, deep prejudice still does exist.”
Jackson says the play also challenges the actors, requiring them to come “bursting through the gates with a sense of empowerment on stage.” He believes Out of the Blue will set a new standard for an actor’s sense of security and being brave on stage.
Huntley Middle School Auditorium is located at 1515 S. Fourth Street, in DeKalb. Performances run Sept. 22 through 25, and 29 through Oct. 1.
Tickets are $17 for adults, $15 for seniors and $9 for students with an ID, and may be purchased at the School of Theatre and Dance Box Office located in the Holmes Student Center lower level, next to the Blackhawk Dining Room, on the NIU DeKalb campus.
The box office is open Monday through Thursday from noon to 6 p.m., Friday from noon to 2 p.m., and one hour before show time. Tickets may also be ordered by phone at 815-753-1600 or online at niu.edu/theatre.