NIU’s School of Theatre and Dance presents ‘The Canterbury Tales’

Online Staff Report

DEKALB, Ill. — An adaptation of Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales will be presented as the next Studio Series production of the Northern Illinois University (NIU) School of Theatre and Dance (SoTD).

The Canterbury Tales originally consisted of 24 stories written by Chaucer at the end of the 14th century. Eight of these stories have been adapted for the stage by Visiting Assistant Professor Luke Krueger, and the play is directed by Stanton Davis.

The Canterbury Tales runs from Thursday, Nov. 8, though Sunday, Nov. 11, in the Stevens Building Corner Theatre.

An interesting aspect of the play is the use of historical figures as characters who enact Chaucer’s tales. The figures become intriguing stories within the stories.

The tales are set as if they’re being told in the court of King Richard II,” Davis said.

According to Krueger, there are many parallels between these stories and the greater plot involving King Richard II and his court.

Lady Joan Bohun is there, who is Henry IV’s mother-in-law and a suspected spy for Henry, who is suspected of attempting to overthrow the crown,” Krueger said.

As the king waits for news of a war and looks for entertainment, Chaucer enters and asks to tell his tales. The king requests that Chaucer perform them instead.

So, Chaucer presents the tales of travelers on the road to the village of Canterbury. Though their journeys connect them, these travelers all have adventures to share. Everyone watching at the court is pulled into the stories, and they all eventually have a role to play in the telling, even the knights and the king himself.

In addition to great storytelling, the play will also feature music. Davis and Krueger researched songs from the time period to keep the setting consistent.

The cast consists of mostly freshman bachelor of fine arts (BFA) in acting students, which gives audience members a chance to see the future of the SoTD, Davis said.

Freshman BFA in acting candidate Rebekah Peltz said she has enjoyed forming closer relationships with her classmates through the rehearsal process. As the play is a work in progress, she said it has been a unique and gratifying experience.

I enjoy having the playwright in rehearsal, because then we can know what his intentions are,” she said.

Using elements of beauty and humor in the writing of Middle English, the script comically expresses anti-violence and anti-war sentiments. According to Davis, Middle English is very similar to modern written English, so the play will not be difficult to understand.

Audience members should not come expecting high-brow literature and text,” Davis said. “It is about everyday people.” He said the cast and crew put a lot of work into turning Chaucer’s poetry into a relatable and comical play.

The Canterbury Tales will stage in the Stevens Building Corner Theatre on the NIU DeKalb campus. Weeknight and Saturday performances begin at 7:30 p.m. with a Sunday matinee at 2 p.m. All general admission tickets are $6 and are only available one hour before each performance. Call (815) 753-1600 or e-mail for more information.

Posted Nov. 7, 2012

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