NIU School of Theatre and Dance presents ‘Theophilus North’

Staff Report

DEKALB, Ill. — A man and a plan to find himself; what could go wrong? Northern Illinois University (NIU) School of Theatre and Dance will perform the humorous coming-of-age adventure, Theophilus North, and adaptation by Matthew Burnett based on Thornton Wilder’s last novel.

The journey begins in the Stevens Building O’Connell Theatre Thursday, Sept. 22, with performances through Sunday, Sept. 25, and again from Thursday, Sept. 29, through Sunday, Oct. 2. Show times are 7:30 p.m. weekdays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays.

Set in 1926, Theophilus North chronicles the quest of a young New Jersey school teacher who becomes stranded in a wealthy Rhode Island community when car problems thwart his plans for adventure and self discovery — only 200 miles from where he began. Theophilus then inadvertently becomes entwined in the lives of the town residents when he accepts odd jobs assisting the wealthy townsfolk with their eccentric requests.

Cast member C. Clayton Blackwell believes this play is an extension of Wilder’s existentialist philosophy. “Everyone at one point in time asks themselves, ‘Is this all that I am? Is there nothing more?’” Blackwell said. “We, as a society, will choose to see a way to change it or accept it. Theophilus does both.”

The play is being remounted on the NIU stage after having been performed in several venues over the summer in partnership with Organic Theatre Company. Director Josh Anderson transitioned from actor to director for this remounted production.

During the first read-through on the DeKalb campus, Anderson encouraged the seven-member cast, all School of Theatre and Dance students and all of whom understudied with the Organic Theatre Company, to make bold and vivid choices with their characters, no matter how small the part.

Tickets can be purchased at the Stevens Building O’Connell Theatre box office from noon to 5 p.m., Monday-Thursday; noon-2 p.m., Friday; and one hour before curtain. Tickets also can be ordered by phone at (815) 753-1600 or online at Tickets are $16 for adults, $13 for seniors and $8 for students.

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