The NIU School of Theatre and Dance will be performing Picnic, written by William Inge. This 1950’s romance will open on March 23 at the Diversions Lounge in the Holmes Student Center, 340 Carroll Ave in DeKalb.
First written and performed in 1953, Inge’s play tells the story of a drifter named Hal making his way through Kansas. He stops in a small town to work for Helen Potts, an older woman in town. He becomes reacquainted with his old college friend, Alan Seymour, and winds up falling in love with Alan’s girlfriend Madge Owens. Madge is a young 18-year old, who deals with finding her identity outside of being labeled the “pretty one,” while her sister Millie attempts to escape the shadow of her sister.
Throughout the show, Inge creates a strong dynamic amongst the characters using themes of identity and sexual awakening. Inge is a Pulitzer-Prize winning playwright and novelist whose works generally contain solitary characters who constantly battle with their sexuality and relationships.
“It’s a classic play that rivals the works of Tennessee Williams, but it’s a lesser known show,” said Bryant Hayes, a first-year M.F.A. in theatre arts who plays Hal, “I really enjoy Hal as a character ‘cause I feel like characters like him are often misunderstood. This is the first time he’s fallen in love and it drives him crazy. He’s had a crazy life, but this is the first thing he can latch on to. It discusses falling in love for the first time and how that’s uncomfortable, and it’s about figuring out how to accept it and live in it.”
“The show will move you,” Destiny Dunn, who plays Madge, added.
Picnic is directed by Margaret Scanlan, a current NIU graduate student. “I write and study American masculinity, specifically the era of the ‘lost man’ post-World War II, when men were no longer sure of their role in society and where women were waking up to new possibilities.” When asked why she wanted to direct this show she stated, “It’s a great play. It’s poignant and true and the actors are wonderful in it.”
Performances will be held at NIU’s Holmes Student Center, in the Diversions Lounge, 340 Carroll Ave. in DeKalb. Show times will start at 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday. An additional afternoon performance will be presented at 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 25.
Tickets are $7. Ticket reservations and additional information are available by contacting the NIU School of Theatre and Dance box office at 815-753-1600.