Update: Performances of “The Children’s Hour” originally scheduled for March 31, April 1 and April 2 have been cancelled. A A performance at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 5 has been added.
The NIU School of Theatre and Dance will present “The Children’s Hour” at O’Connell Theatre in the Stevens Building on April 5, 6, and 7 beginning at 7:30 each evening with a 2 p.m. matinee April 8. This show provides a perspective on how flawed humanity is and the extent people will go to protect their own version of righteousness.
Tickets are available at niu.edu/theatre and are $10 for adults, $7 for non-NIU Students and NIU Students can attend free of charge.
The interaction between the characters is very real. One little lie can blow something completely out of proportion and ruin lives, creating this domino effect of little disruptions to one big explosion.
The Children’s Hour is originally set in the 1930s but is set in the 1980s for this production at NIU. The change allows the audience to experience what the topic of gender and sexuality really means. The setting changes the perspective from the 1930s, where these issues weren’t openly discussed and forwards it 50 years to the 80’s and the dawn of the AIDS epidemic, providing a look at these subjects through the shared experience of the desire of love.
NIU School of Theatre and Dance presents
The Children’s Hour
By Lillian Hellman
Directed by Andrea J. Dymond
Assistant Director: Derek May
Scenic Designer: Eric Brockmeier
Assistant Scenic Designer: Timothy Peters
Costume Designer: Danielle Reinhardt
Lighting Designer: Brandon Wardell
Assistant Lighting Designer: Kev Kollmann
Technical Director: Ariel Mozes
Properties Designer: Dave Doherty
Intimacy Choreographer: Bethany Mangum-Oles
Fight Choreographer: Stanton Davis
Dramaturg: Jordan Boyd
Stage Manager: Sarah Blickem
This show is approximately two hours and 45 minutes and will have two intermissions.
MARTHA DOBIE – Audrey Geysbeek
KAREN WRIGHT – Kaitlyn Cheng
MARY TILFORD – Lauren Roth
AMELIA TILFORD – Sydney Hamill
DR. JOE CARDIN – Jonathan Perkins
LILY MORTAR – Sonya Dunn
AGATHA – Finn Stumpf
ROSALIE WELLS – Chloe Konieczki
PEGGY ROGERS – Kyara Chisolm
EVELYN MUNN – Raeanna Tremethick
GROCERY BOY – Jalen Kent (KJ)
HELEN BURTON/CATHERINE LOIS FISHER – Yukina Nguyen
LOIS FISHER – Morgan Mallory
When I’ve mentioned to friends that I’m directing a production of “The Children’s Hour,” their reactions are often, shall we say, mildly surprised? They clearly wonder if I’ve forgotten the first question, the gold standard to be met, in choosing to make a play: Why this play now? What could a play written in the 1930s have to say to us nearly one hundred years later?
Actually, there are layers of themes in this play that make it very resonant for this cultural moment. A play before its time, it tussles with the complexities of modern society. The plot is propelled by the power of a lie and the self-righteous furor of those who readily weaponize their prejudices and self-righteous indignation, regardless of the destruction their actions cause. Created in the ‘30s when there was no open acknowledgment of an LGBTQ community, it was banned in several places when it first appeared. We’ve placed it in the 1980s, when AIDS ravaged the country and the rise of the conservative movement in the U.S. was just taking hold, and are presenting it in a moment where steps are being taken across our country to ban actions — and even people — who offend the sensibilities of a judgmental, narrow-minded, self-righteous old guard. In fact, I doubt it would take more than a moment’s thought, for any of us, to think of a number of examples of this kind of behavior taken from current events.
That is why this play now.
Andrea J. Dymond
Kaitlyn Cheng (Karen Wright) is a California native, now living in the Windy City of Chicago. She earned her M.F.A. in acting from Northern Illinois University and is excited to return as a guest artist. Cheng was last seen in “Title Ten” with Artemisa Theater and “Curious Incident” with West Virginia Public Theater. Favorite NIU credits include: Irina in “Three Sisters,” Penny in “Bike America,” and #8 in “The Wolves.” In her free time she loves to bake and rock climb. You can find more information at kaitlyncheng.com. Much love to mom, Caleb and James.
Kyara Chisolm (Peggy Rogers) is a second-year B.F.A. in acting candidate. This is her second show at NIU as she was previously in “Much Ado About Nothing” (Verges). She wants to thank the cast and crew for being so great on this production and is honored to work with them all.
Sonya Dunn (Lily Mortar) is a second-year B.F.A in acting candidate from Chicago. Her previous NIU performance was as Antonia in “Much Ado About Nothing” directed by Kay Martinovich. She wants to thank, with great respect, the cast, crew, production team and Andrea Dymond for everything they’ve done. She hopes you enjoy this production.
Audrey Geysbeek (Martha Dobie) (she/they) is a first-year M.F.A. in acting candidate from Grand Rapids, Michigan. She received her B.F.A. in acting from Western Michigan University. Go Broncos. Some of Geysbeek’s most memorable theatre credits include Hermia in “A Midsummer’s Night Dream,” #8 in “The Wolves,” Helen in “The Women of Troy” and William Dunn in “Men On Boats.” You may also see her in some Zoom commercials and ads with Rhino Productions. She is excited to have her NIU debut with this lovely piece. “I have overwhelming gratitude for my family and friends who have supported me along the way. It is a privilege to be an artist that is surrounded with love.” Instagram: @audaudiee.
Sydney Hamill (Amelia Tilford) is a B.F.A. junior at Northern Illinois University. She has been in three NIU productions so far including The Blue Macaw in “Bird in the Hand,” Town Hall Member in “Town Hall, ”Evil Tina in “She Kills Monsters” and the 2022 Third Onion Improv and Comedy Show. One thing about Hamill is that she loves fun facts and has had a term coined for her because of it by her classmate Emma Vaughn. Now they are called “Syd-bits” (like tidbits). Hamill hopes you enjoy the performance and sends a thanks to her cast, the crew and Andrea Dymond for all their artistry.
Jalen (KJ) Kent (Grocery Boy) is a B.A. freshman here at NIU. My mother and father inspired me and my three sisters to be a part of the performing arts industry at an early age. I first set my foot on stage at the age of six which is when my passion for acting started to grow. I started performing more in front of even bigger crowds when I joined the South Shore Drill Team of Chicago at the age of 15. I’ve performed at the 2020 NBA All-Star game, in front of Lori Lightfoot and at the 2021 Inauguration. I was previously a part of the run crew in “She Kills Monsters” last semester as the light operator. I am proud to say this is my first production and I enjoy being around my cast. I hope everyone enjoys the show and enjoys their favorite grocery boy.
Chloe Konieczki (Rosalie Wells) is a second-year B.F.A. candidate. She was previously seen in “The Little Mermaid” and “How I Became a Pirate” (Jennifer Jacobs) at Starlight Theatre, which are just two of the more than 20 plays/musicals she has done. Other works include a few short films and a TV series, “The Deadersons.” She’s excited to be part of this show. She thanks her mom for always supporting her in her many adventures.
Morgan Mallory (Lois Fisher) is a senior B.A. theatre studies student and she is very excited to be a part of this production of “The Children’s Hour.” Some other things she has been a part of are Northern Illinois University’s productions of “Conference of the Birds,” “Edward ll” and “Everybody.” She hopes that you all will enjoy the show.
Yukina (Yuki) Nguyen (Helen Burton/Catherine) is a new transfer student at NIU. Though she has not been at NIU for very long, Nguyen has been doing theatre and orchestra, performing and backstaging for many years dating back to grade school. With her love of the arts starting at age four, the moment her fingers touched the piano, her love for performance and interest in the behind the scenes continues to grow as she currently produces music with her current job being on the other spectrum of theatre. With more shows and performances to come in the near future, it is 100% guaranteed that Nguyen is looking forward to it.
Jonathan Perkins (Dr. Joe Cardin) is a third-year B.F.A. acting candidate and is grateful to share this story about how a lie can have consequences that expose human vulnerability. Last semester he portrayed Don Pedro in “Much Ado About Nothing” directed by Kay Martinovich. This past summer, he toured with Hoosier Shakespeare Festival as Ross in “Macbeth” and Slender in “The Merry Wives of Windsor.” He is also a voice actor, recently heard in Congo Square Theatre’s audio series, “The Clinic,” voicing Shad, directed by Daniel Bryant (season one) and Javon Johnson (season two). Next up after “The Children’s Hour,” Perkins will be working with Texas Shakespeare Festival on four shows. Shout out to his acting cohort at NIU; you guys mean the absolute world to him. Much love to everyone in the production and those who have constantly supported his artistry; this show is dedicated to you all. Keep being your authentic selves forever and always. Other credits include Eagle in “The Conference of the Birds” by Sholeh Wolpé, directed by Cecilie Keenan, Omari in “Pipeline” and Doug in “Gruesome Playground Injuries.”
Lauren Roth (Mary Tilford) is a B.F.A. actor originally from Kansas City, Missouri and is excited to be in her second show at NIU and to be sharing this story. She is extremely proud of her cast and crew for their consistent hard work on this, and is especially grateful to the director Andi Dymond for making the process so enjoyable. Roth thanks everyone who came to see this show and hopes you gain something from it.
Finn Stumpf (Agatha) is a third-year B.A. in theatre studies and this is their third show at NIU. Recent NIU acting credits include Orcus in “She Kills Monsters” and Owl in “The Conference of the Birds.” Other acting credits include Slank in “Peter and the Starcatcher” and Philostrate in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” They would also like to remind you to never underestimate the power of a maid, especially this one.
Raeanna Tremethick (Evelyn Munn) is a sophomore B.F.A. acting candidate. She is incredibly grateful to work alongside this cast
and crew. Her most recent credit was in NIU’s production of “She Kills Monsters” as Evil Gabbi. Tremethick would like to dedicate this performance to her parents for their endless amount of love and support for her during this journey.
Production Team Bios
Sarah Blickem (Stage Manager) is a third-year B.A. theatre studies candidate emphasizing in stage management. Credits include stage manager for “RUR” and “Melancholy Play” at Northern Illinois University, stage manager for “Sizwe Banzi is Dead” with Outer Loop Theater Company, and assistant stage manager for “Escape to Margaritaville,” “Lend Me A Tenor,” “Annie,” “Legally Blonde,” “Nunsense” and “We Will Rock You” at Timber Lake Playhouse. They are incredibly grateful for the opportunity to create with such an amazing team. She would like to thank her parents and her partner for their unwavering love and support. Jordan Boyd (Dramaturg) (pronouns they/them) is a senior B.A. theatre studies major with an emphasis in costumes, makeup and stage management. This is their first time dramaturging for a show, and hopes you enjoy it.
Eric Brockmeier (Scenic Designer) is a second-year MFA scenic design graduate student. His previous credits include scenic designer for “Melancholy Play” (NIU 2022), scenic designer for “Hecuba” (Beloit College 2022), assistant scenic designer for “She Kills Monsters” (NIU 2022), scenic designer for the Fall Dance Concert (NIU 2021), scenic designer for “The Game’s Afoot” (Elgin Community College 2022), assistant scenic designer for “The Conference of the Birds” (NIU 2022), charge artist for “Twelfth Night” (NIU 2021), scenic designer for the University of Northern Colorado’s production of “The Heiress” (2020), assistant scenic designer for “The Cherry Orchard” (2019 UNCO), and assistant charge artist for “The Imaginary Invalid” (2018 UNCO). He would like to thank his friends, family and professors for their support in getting to this point. Enjoy the show. Joshua 1:9
Stanton Davis (Fight Choreographer) is a voice and acting teacher at NIU. He’s in his 15th year as a member of the acting faculty. He teaches speech, dialects, verse, stage combat and rhetoric. He holds a B.F.A. from the University of Utah and an M.F.A. from the Professional Theatre Training Program at the University of Delaware. Davis has acted professionally on stage, film, television, voiceover and audiobook narrations. He’s a certified Fitzmaurice Voice instructor. He lives on a farm with his spouse and many furry and feathery friends.
Andrea J. Dymond (Director) is a Chicago-based freelance director specializing in developing and directing new work. She most recently directed “Red Summer,” an original musical, presented by the Center for Performing Arts at Governors State University; Paramount Theatre’s production of “Sweat” at the Copley Theatre; and the world premiere of “The Greatest Theatrical Event…EVER.” at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Dymond was formerly resident director at Victory Gardens Theater where she directed 11 productions, including seven world premieres, and helped to develop and launch the The Ignition Festival of New Plays. In addition to directing around Chicago and the U.S., her experience includes literary management, research and production dramaturgy, directing at new works festivals, serving as thesis play advisor for M.F.A. playwrights at Carnegie Mellon University and directing at NNPN’s MFA Playwrights Workshops at the Kennedy Center. A teacher at Columbia College Chicago, Dymond’s courses have included directing, collaboration, African American scene study, text analysis, dramaturgy, acting and new play development. She was also the facilitator of the Theodore Ward Award for African American playwriting.
Kevin Kollmann (Assistant Lighting Designer) is in his first year as an M.F.A. student in lighting design. Kollmann has recently received his B.A. in theater from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh focusing on directing and stage management. Kollmann’s works here at NIU have been “She Kills Monsters” and “Carmina Burana” as an assistant lighting designer and most recently as lighting designer for “Life is a Dream.” For more information about Kollmann please visit their website at kevkollmanndesigns.com
Bethany Mangum-Oles (Intimacy Choreographer) is an actor, director, educator, intimacy choreographer, and mama of two born and raised in southern California. Mangum-Oles holds a B.F.A. in acting from California State University, Fullerton, and an M.F.A. in acting from NIU where her studies have taken her to the Moscow Art Theater School in Moscow, Russia and the Adana International Theatre Festival in Adana, Turkey. Mangum-Oles is a certified intimacy captain and currently in pursuit of her trauma-informed yoga certification. She has made her family home here in DeKalb and her artistic home at NIU as full-time acting area faculty and currently serves the school as head of B.F.A. acting recruitment. She has the privilege of also serving as the artistic director for MUSE Theatre Collective and rotating voice and movement faculty at the Gately-Poole Studio.
Derek May (Assistant Director) is excited to be an assistant director for “The Children’s Hour.” This is his second time as an assistant director, his first being “She Kills Monsters.” He has also been involved in other productions at NIU. He first was in props crew for “Kernel of Sanity,” wardrobe crew for the Spring Dance Concert last year, and was Mark Maners in Hailey Stark’s capstone project of “Need to Know.” He thanks everyone for allowing him to be a part of this amazing show.
Ariel Mozes (Technical Director) is thrilled to open his second production here at NIU. At NIU, Mozes is a first-year M.F.A. technical direction student. Previously, he was the technical director for “Carmina Burana” in the fall. In his other life, Mozes is the auditorium manager and director of the theater department at Downers Grove North High School. He hopes you enjoy the show.
Timothy Peters (Assistant Scenic Designer) is a third-year B.F.A. design and tech major with a lighting focus. He recently designed/worked on the productions of “Almost Maine” at Indian Trail High School Academy, “Much Ado About Nothing” and “Mamma Mia!” during the 2022 season of the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival. He wants to thank his parents for their indestructible faith in him as well as his high school theatre director Bob Allen for teaching him his love of theatre.
Danielle Reinhardt (Costume Designer) is a third-year M.F.A. in costume design candidate from Sycamore, Illinois. During her time at NIU, Reinhardt has created costume designs for “Melancholy Play,” “The Conference of the Birds,” “Edward II,” “Polaroid Stories” and “The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui.” Prior to coming to NIU, she designed the costumes for Stage Coach Players’ performance of “The Little Mermaid” (Egyptian Theatre) as well as the independent film “The White Horse is Dead.” Reinhardt has also earned her M.B.A. at Elmhurst University and is a senior brand manager for Ultra PRO Entertainment. Her motto is to never stop learning and never stop dreaming.
Brandon Wardell (Lighting Designer) is a lighting and scenic designer based in Chicago. He is an ensemble member at Steep Theatre Company, an artistic associate with Griffin Theatre Company and associate professor of lighting design at Northern Illinois University. Recent designs include “Light Falls,” “Birdland,” “Lela & Co.” and “Earthquakes in London”(Steep Theatre Co.); “Two Trains Running” (Court Theatre); “Blues in the Night” (Porchlight Music Theatre); “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” (Steppenwolf Theatre Co.); “A Number” (Writers Theatre); “Cardboard Piano” and “The Vibrator Play” (TimeLine Theatre Co.); “Men On Boats” (American Theatre Co.); “Solaris,” “Titani,” “London Wall” and “Men Should Weep” (Griffin); “The Game of Love and Chance” (American Players Theatre); and “Million Dollar Quartet” (Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival). Wardell earned his M.F.A. from Northwestern University. brandonwardelldesign.com
Technical Direction Advisor – Tracy Nunnally
Scenic Coordinator – Sahin Sahinoglu
Scene Shop Supervisor – Adam Rager
Scene Shop Graduate Employees – Elizabeth Ahles, Eric Brockmeier, Alicia Margerum
Scene Shop Employees – Jordyn Crooks, Sunshine Despeines, Mike Kozel, Kairin Rozenfeld-Mayberg, Tyler Sikorski
Run Crew Head – Emelia Barrera
Run Crew – Megumi Goto, Antonio Houston, Rylan Johnson
Costume Design Advisor – Jeremy W. Floyd
Costume Director – Lori Hartenhoff
Costume Shop Supervisor – Clare Richey-Kaplan
Wardrobe Crew – Celia Carpenter, Jaylen Mayfield, Kylee Moore, Talia Sigismondi
Lighting Design Advisor – Brandon Wardell
Resident Head Electrician – Chris Kurszewski
Assistant Head Electrician – Elizabeth Ahles
Lighting Shop Graduate Assistant – Kev Kollmann
Lighting Shop Employees – Logan Bryant, Conall Doherty, Timothy Peters
Student Electricians – THEA 210 students, THEA 295 students, THEA 395 students
Properties Director – Dave Doherty
Properties Assistants – Eric Brockmeier, Ski Sciaraffa
Properties Shop Staff – Sarah Blickem, Rebecca Formeller, Mike Kozel, Alexander Thomas
Production Assistant – Jordan Clifton
House Management Supervisor – Cornelia Hayes