The NIU School of Theatre and Dance will perform “Picnic,” a 1950s romance written by William Inge, March 23-26 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 a “pretty one,” while her sister Millie attempts to escape the shadow of Madge.
Throughout the show, Inge creates a strong character dynamic 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 MFA in acting candidate who plays Hal.
“I really enjoy Hal as a character because I feel that characters like him are often misunderstood. This is the first time he’s fallen in love and it drives him crazy,” Hayes said. “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,” said Destiny Dunn, who plays Madge.
“Picnic” is directed by Margaret Scanlan, an NIU graduate student.
“I write and study the 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,” Scanlan said.
Showtimes will start at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday, and an additional evening performance will begin at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 25.
Tickets, which are $7, can be purchased by contacting the NIU School of Theatre and Dance box office at 815-753-1600 or online at its website.