Contact: David Booth/Michelle Gilbert, NIU School of Theatre and Dance
DeKalb — The excitement of the holiday season and with it memories of snowballs, candy, relatives and adventures will return in the latest Studio Series production from the Northern Illinois University School of Theatre and Dance, opening Thursday, Dec. 4, in the Corner Theatre.
The play, “A Child’s Christmas in Wales,” is based on a poem written by Dylan Thomas in 1955 about his Christmas memories as a child growing up in Wales. In this theatrical production, Thomas nostalgically recalls neighbors, useless presents, meals, walks with friends and more.
“It’s a family show filled with the spirit of Christmas,” said stage manager Jackie Perez. “The whole play is set to music, like a Celtic style.”
Four different actors play Dylan Thomas himself as he narrates his childhood, and most of the cast has more than one part in the show, Perez said. The cast faces the challenge of bringing to life multiple characters throughout the show. The cast is a young cast, mostly made up of freshman with three sophomores. All of them are BFA in acting candidates.
Guest director Dawn Arnold has previously worked with a Dylan Thomas piece and is enjoying working with his writing again. “I love the material,” she said, “the poetry, the world of Wales. It captures the essence of the holidays, the holiday nostalgia, but it goes beyond that.”
The story was adopted by Arnold for the stage, though it still remains as close to its original format as possible. Because the poem is told only from Thomas’ point of view, Arnold had to make adjustments to allow more characters to speak. This created more defined roles for the actors without changing the meaning or the atmosphere of the original poem.
“Otherwise,” Arnold said, “only one person would speak. This way it is more of an ensemble.”
“A Child’s Christmas in Wales” will start promptly at 7:30 p.m. in the NIU Stevens Building Corner Theatre Wednesday through Saturday. On Sunday, shows start promptly at 2 p.m. Tickets are $5 general admission, and are only available at the door on the night of the performance. Although this is a family show, audience members must be at least 5 to enter. For more information, call the Stevens Building box office at (815) 753-1600.
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