NIU Theatre to present ‘Picnic’

The Northern Illinois School of Theatre and Dance will perform “Picnic,” a 1950s romance written by William Inge. It opens March 23 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 her sister.

Throughout the show, Inge creates a strong dynamic amongst the characters 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,” Bryant Hayes, who plays Hal, said in a news release. “I really enjoy Hal as a character ‘cause I feel like characters like him are often misunderstood. This is the first time he’s fallen in love and it drives him crazy. 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.”

“Picnic” is directed by graduate student Margaret Scanlan.

“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.”

Performances will be held at NIU’s Holmes Student Center, in the Diversions Lounge, 340 Carroll Ave. in DeKalb. Show times are at 7:30 p.m. March 23, 24 and 25 and 2 p.m. March 25 and 26.

Tickets cost $7 and are available by calling the NIU School of Theatre and Dance box office at 815-753-1600 or visiting

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