Pressure to achieve perfection, political blackmail and forgiveness are all aspects of life explored in the second theater production of the 2012-13 season for Northern Illinois University’s School of Theatre and Dance.
Oscar Wilde’s “An Ideal Husband” runs Oct. 18 through 21 and 25 through 28 in the Stevens Building O’Connell Theatre.
The play examines the personal and public lives of London’s late 1800s social elite. The action takes place in a 24-hour period, beginning with a dinner party hosted by Sir Robert Chiltern. When a female guest tries to blackmail Sir Robert, dirty details of the characters’ relationships come to light.
Jack Hickey, artistic director for Oak Park Festival Theatre in Oak Park, is the guest director for “An Ideal Husband.” He said he has not experienced a significant difference between working with professional actors and NIU students.
“These students are prepared, and they’re willing to listen to their director,” Hickey said in a news release. He said the production could hold its own in Chicago.
Hickey said the humor in the play is what he thinks the audience will enjoy most. However, he said because the play was written by Oscar Wilde in 1895, the language is different than what modern audiences are used to.
“You do have to listen a little bit more than you would normally,” Hickey said in the release. “But if you’re listening carefully, a lot of these offhand comments are very funny.”
Stage manager and School of Theatre and Dance student Stephanie Vera agreed, and said, even though the play has serious parts, the guest director plays up a lot of the humor to create a balance for the audience.
Vera also described Hickey as having an organic way of working, allowing the actors and crew to bounce ideas off one another. She said every member of the cast and crew contributed to the final product in some way.
Assistant director Ryan Massie said even though the play was written in 1895, the themes and lessons hold true in modern times.
Vera said one lesson the play explores is the consequences people face for their good or bad actions and decisions. Honesty is rewarded, and dishonesty leads to complications and conflicts among characters in the play.
“An Ideal Husband” will stage in the Stevens Building O’Connell Theatre on the NIU DeKalb campus. Weeknight and Saturday performances begin at 7:30 p.m. with a Sunday matinee at 2 p.m. Tickets cost $16 for adults, $13 for seniors and $8 for students.
Tickets for “An Ideal Husband” and more information about the production are available online at www.niu.edu/theatre or by contacting the School of Theatre and Dance box office, open from noon to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and noon to 2 p.m. Friday, at 815-753-1600 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.