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NIU to present Tennessee Williams play

Published: Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

Presenting the fifth production of its seven show Mainstage Series, the Northern Illinois University School of Theatre and Dance will stage an early play by Tennessee Williams.

“Not About Nightingales,” opens today in the Stevens Building O’Connell Theatre.

Williams’ fourth play, “Not About Nightingales” is not as well-known as many of his later plays, because it remained unpublished and unperformed until 1998.

Based on actual events, “Not About Nightingales” is a story about liberty, human rights, love and abuse of power and is based on what was described at the time as one of the worst prison horrors in American history.

“This is a picture, an insight into prison life in the 1930s during the depression,” director Patricia Ridge said in a news release. “It’s an unlikely love story which thrives, despite the underlying quarrel.”

Brandon Greenhouse, who plays the role of Jim in the play, said “Not About Nightingales” is a cautionary tale about what happens when too much power is given to the wrong people.

The prison warden brutalizes the inmates, both emotionally and physically. In revolt against the mistreatment, the inmates declare a hunger strike. As events worsen toward being out of control, a contrasting romance begins to develop between one of the convicts leading the hunger strike and the warden’s secretary.

“Through the play, we are able to see what prison costs in terms of relationships and human suffering and come to understand how the penal system corrupts,” Ridge said in the release. She said the play is for mature audiences only.

“Not About Nightingales” stages today through Sunday and Feb. 28 through March 3 at 7:30 p.m. weekdays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays in the Stevens Building O’Connell Theatre on the DeKalb campus.

Tickets cost $16 for adults, $13 for seniors and $8 for students. Tickets can be purchased online at, or at the O’Connell Theatre box office from noon to 5 p.m. weekdays by calling 815-753-1600. Walk-up tickets also can be purchased one hour before curtain times.

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