Anxious People

Anxious People! by Carol Lee is a play about anxious people. And it is the first production in the spring season of the NIU School of Theatre and Dance opening Friday, February 16 in the Sally Stevens Players Theatre in the NIU Stevens Building.

An hour and a half witness of tender and at times tense, circumstances, relatable instances, and secret intimate relationships. A play that uses joy, sorrow, melancholy, and relationships to point out our unique and universal qualities around nerve, risk, fear, control, and vulnerability.

Anxious People! is directed by Alys Dickerson, a 2016 Master of Fine Arts graduate of the School of Theatre and Dance. She is artistic associate at American Players Theatre in Spring Green, Wisconsin.

Tickets are on sale now online for performances Friday, February 16 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, February 17 at 7:30 p.m., Sunday, February 18 at 2 p.m., Thursday, February 22 at 7:30 p.m. and two performances Saturday, February 24 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. There is no performance of Anxious People! on Friday, February 21.

Anxious People!
Sally Stevens Players Theatre
February 16-18, 22 and 24
Written by Carol Lee

Director: Alys Dickerson
Assistant Director: Carrie Szostak
Intimacy Choreographer: Bethany Mangum-Oles
Fight Choreographer: J. Cody Hunt

Co-Fight Choreographer: Stanton Davis
Lighting Designer: Mike Kozek
Stage Manager: Jessie Ferreira

The show is approximately one hour and 50 minutes with no intermission.
Content warning: This show contains adult language and themes.


Nurse, Tired, Family 1
Ahyanna Addison

Jesus, Manager, Paramedic 3, Zoom in, Z
Destiny Davis

Downtime, J, Significant Other, Dad
Sophia Dimond

Impulse, Open, Untethering
Sonya Dunn

Satan, Mom, Spelling, Years and Years
Gabby Gozdecki

Expectation, McDonalds
Sania Henry

Audience, Paramedic 2, Rum, XXX Jennifer XXX, A
Tonio Horn

Hope, Bastard, Love, Family 3, Wicked6969, Customer 2
King Johnson

Guilt, Neutral, M
Becca Katz

Manic, N, Customer 1
Matthew Killinger

Coward, Paramedic 1, Party, Family 2
Derrick Longstreet

Knowledge, Queen, K
Lauren Roth

Futile, 911, Value
Jaylin Turner

Director’s Note

Carol Lee’s play about anxious people is a comment on agency, childhood, trauma, grief, love and family.

The production is dedicated to the actor. When was the last time you sang the alphabet? Or played pretend?

Funny thing, asking a young studying artist to “embrace anxiety” when so much of the artist’s life is rooted in anxiety. I am grateful that my cast endeavored to play.

This play is for my students who willingly put themselves into the shoes of our characters; courageously and consistently.

This play is for the gap in generations and how our collective “worry” has united us through time.

This play is for the inner child in us who, from the dawn of time, was always supposed to be protected. Sorry to have failed you.

I hope that the cinema of our story blesses our understanding of what it means to forge through anxiety, embarrassment and connection.

Lastly, I am grateful for this process and what it has taught me about control, or lack thereof.

Cast Bios

Ahyanna AddisonAhyanna Addison (Nurse, Tired, Family 1) is a sophomore B.A. theatre studies major. This is her first production here at NIU. She wants to shout out to the director, Alys, and the cast for riding along with her on this emotional journey. She also wants to shout out her family. I love you all, thanks for coming.




Destiny DavisDestiny Davis (Jesus, Manager, Paramedic 3, Zoom In, Z) is a second-year B.F.A acting major. This is her second production here at NIU. Her most recent production was A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It was such an amazing experience. She truly enjoyed working with everyone in the cast, especially the amazing, sweet director Alys Dickerson.



Sophia DiamondSophia Dimond (Downtime, J, Significant Other, Dad) (She/Her) is a second year B.F.A. acting major at Northern Illinois University and is so excited to be participating in her second mainstage production here at NIU. Previously, Sophia has been seen in last semester’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream as Snug the Joiner. Before college she participated in various shows at Bolingbrook High School as well as the VVSD Stages summer programs in both on and offstage roles. Sophia has had a great time working on this show, and hopes you enjoy our production of Anxious People!


Sonya DunnSonya Dunn (Impulse, Open, Untethering) is a Chicago-born, third-year B.F.A acting candidate here at Northern Illinois University. She has been in three NIU productions. Most recently, Rage Play (Ay) directed by Hannah Hammel, Much Ado About Nothing ( Antonia/The Watch) directed by Kay Martinovich, and The Children’s Hour (Lily Mortar) directed by Andrea Dymond. Thank you to everyone who is a part of this production!



Gabbie Gozdecki Gabby Gozdecki (Satan, Mom, Spelling, Years and Years) is a third-year B.F.A. acting student at Northern Illinois University. Gabby spent the summer at the National Theater Institute. There, she participated in the Theatermaker’s Summer Intensive where she originated six new roles in six new plays. Her recent roles at NIU include The Singer in Bertolt Brecht’s The Caucasian Chalk Circle translated and directed by Alexander Gelman, Bella and Eleanor in Big Love by Charles Mee and Joan in Melancholy Play by Sarah Ruhl, both directed by Bethany Mangum-Oles.



Sania HenrySania Henry (Expectation, McDonalds) is a second year B.F.A. acting candidate, and this is her second theater production here at NIU. She debuted in The Caucasian Chalk Circle in the fall. She would like to thank God for the opportunity to continue pursuing this work.




Antonio HornAntonio Horn (Audience, Paramedic 2, Rum, XXX Jennifer XXX, A) (He/Him) is a second-year B.F.A. acting candidate. Previously on the NIU stage, he has played Francis Flute in A Midsummer Night’sDream. He is loving every step of this journey in acting. A lot of things in his life turned and misguided him from following this aspiration that he’s had since he was a kid. But he is grateful and honored to have this opportunity to strive and showcase what he’s been blessedwith so far. He knew nothing about this would be easy, but he easily finds this to be fun. No matter what happens, every moment is cherished by him.


King JohnsonKing Johnson (Hope, Bastard, Love, Family 3, Wicked6969, Customer 2) is a B.F.A. acting major in his third year from Chicago and Tampa, Florida. He’s excited to be in his third year here and continues to be a part of as many projects as possible. He’s honored to be amongst his cast mates and directors and take the stage in this production. This will be his third show here and first non-Shakespeare show. He has also starred in two short films called penance and we live together during his time at NIU, as well as helped produce and direct other projects in his free time. He wants to thank his friends and family for always supporting him through his artistic ventures and his whole Anxious People! cast and crew for making his third show a thrilling journey and pushing him to give his best.


Becca KatzBecca Katz (Guilt, Neutral) is a second-year theatre studies minor. Her previous credits include Ensemble in The Caucasian Chalk Circle and Chorus/Musician in Life is a Dream here at NIU. Becca is extremely grateful to be sharing the stage with such wonderful, talented people. She would also like to note that while everyone faces anxieties, it is how we accept and conquer them that truly matters. For the last time, Becca would like to dedicate this performance to those in her life who taught her to never give up on herself and always work hard. Thank you deeply for all your support throughout the years.


Matthew KillingerMatthew Killinger (Manic, N, Customer 1) is a senior B.A. theatre studies major who is incredibly grateful for this opportunity. Anxious People! is a play unlike any he has seen before and hopes that the audience follows the roller-coaster of emotions that the cast did while putting together this show. He would also like to thank his family and friends for their support through these trying times, and for NIU to allow him to reconnect with his inner child for the last couple years.


Derrick LongstreetDerrick Longstreet (Coward, Paramedic 1, Party, Family 2) is a B.A. student in his third year at the School of Theatre and Dance. Born and raised on the south side of Chicago, he grew this passion for acting and has been working for a little over seven years at his craft. Derrick trained predominantly in Chicago at several locations on the north side and is newly represented by The Dream Talent Agency. He is currently seeking representation for further opportunities and relationships. Previous projects include In A Word: as an assistant director, Unfaded Wonder: principal role, and Lavrenti in The Caucasian Chalk Circle. He is pleased to have joined this group for another appearance in NIU productions.


Lauren RothLauren Roth (Knowledge, Queen, K) is a third-year B.F.A. actor originally from Kansas City, Missouri. This is Roth’s fourth production on NIU’s stage, and she is grateful to be contributing to bringing this story to life. She deeply appreciates the ongoing dedication and hard work of everyone in the cast and crew involved in this project. Lauren hopes you find some comfort within the stories of this anxious-filled show and enjoy!


Jaylin TurnerJaylin Turner (Futile, 911, Value) is a second year B.F.A. student, looking forward to being in more productions as time goes by. She would like to thank her family and friends for supporting her and thank her cast mates for being a wonderful ensemble!




Production Team Bios

Alys Dickerson (Director) is an actor, lyricist, voiceover artist and musician. She is passionate about exploring different genres of storytelling and connection. With over 15 years of experience as an actor and educator, she continues to grow her skills as a director. This is Alys’ second directorship at NIU. She graduated from the NIU SOTD Master’s program in 2016, and now holds the title of artistic associate at American Players Theatre in Spring Green, Wisconsin.

Jessica Ferreira (Stage Manager) is happy to be returning to the School of Theatre and Dance at Northern Illinois University, where her previous productions include The Language Archive and She Kills Monsters. She graduated from NIU with a bachelor of fine arts degree with an emphasis in stage management. Thank you to my family for all your love and support!

J Cody Hunt (Fight Choreographer) is proud to be pursuing his M.F.A. in acting. NIU credits include Azdak in The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Demetrius in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Man in In A Word. Regional credits include Unto These Hills at The Mountainside Theatre, North Carolina; Sleeping Beauty at Birmingham Children’s Theatre, Alabama; Blue Gate Musicals, Indiana. Cody was a fight choreographer, stunt performer and fight captain for shows like SAMSON at Sight and Sound Theatres, and played the role of Jesus in JESUS, Pennsylvania and Missouri. His Chicago credits include Chicago Kids Company; Lost In Time, Magnified Gift Theatre; Low Hanging Fruit, Fearless Fiction Productions. He received his B.A. in drama with a concentration in performance at Jacksonville State University in Alabama. Cody would like to thank his wife Elena and daughter Emerson for their endless support.

Stanton Davis (Fight Choreographer) serves as the head of voice speech and dialects at Northern Illinois University. He studied at the Professional Theatre Training Program at the University of Delaware. He has acted, directed, coached, and taught at theater institutions across the United States.

Mike Kozel (Lighting Designer) is a second year here at NIU. He’s been in theatre since high school, and this is the first show he’s ever designed lights for.

Bethany Mangum-Oles (Intimacy Choreographer) is thrilled to have collaborated on this production. She is an actor, director, educator and mama of two born and raised in southern California. Bethany holds a B.F.A. in acting from California State University, Fullerton, and an M.F.A. in acting from Northern Illinois University. While at NIU, her studies took her internationally to the Moscow Art Theater School in Moscow, Russia and the Adana International Theatre Festival in Adana, Turkey. Bethany is a Certified Intimacy Captain and currently in pursuit of her Trauma-Informed Yoga and Yoga Nidra Certifications. She has made her artistic home at NIU as full-time performance area faculty and head of B.F.A. acting recruitment. Bethany also has the unique privilege of serving as rotating voice and movement faculty at the renowned Gately-Poole Acting Conservatory and was recently named artistic director of Kane Repertory Theatre.

Carrie Szostak (Assistant Director) is a third-year B.A. student, and this is her first time assistant directing a show at NIU. She is excited to be a part of such a talented and funny group of people and has enjoyed getting to see everyone develop their characters. Aside from directing, she is also focused on scriptwriting and acting, all three of which were put to use in the SOTD’s 72-Hour Film Festival last April where her team’s film won multiple awards. Other shows she’s been a part of include Shrek the Musical, My Son Pinocchio the Musical, Beauty and the Beast, Les Misérables, Mutually Assured Destruction, Radium Girls, The Sound of Music, and The Monologue Show. When she’s not in the Stevens Building for 13 hours a day, Carrie can usually be found playing the flute in the Huskie Marching Band (in the fall) and the Huskie Pep Band or doing homework at the library. She hopes you enjoy this production and wants to remind you that it’s OK if you too are an anxious person.

Scenic Coordinator – Sahin Sahingolu
Scene Shop Supervisor – Adam Rager
Scene Shop Graduate Employees – J. Cody Hunt, Paul Lang, Alicia Margerum, Tyler Page
Scene Shop Undergraduate Employees – Jade Doherty, Mike Kozel, David Mortenson, Sasha Norman
Student Technicians – THEA 295 Students
Run Crew – Victor Dianovsky, Hans Herrera, Kyia White

Costume Design Advisor – Jeremy W. Floyd
Costume Director – Lori Hartenhoff
Costume Shop Supervisor – Elizabeth Galba
Costume Shop Graduate Employees – Elias Dennis, Ski Sciaraffa
Costume Shop Employees – Alyssa Altadonna, Alix Burkhardt, B. Leni
Costume Shop 395 Students – Alix Burkhardt, Emily Christanson
Student Technicians – THEA 210, 235, and 295 Students

Lighting Design Advisor
– Brandon Wardell
Resident Head Electrician – Chris Kurszewski
Lighting Shop Graduate Assistants – J. Cody Hunt, Paul Lang, Tyler Page
Lighting Shop Employees – Logan Bryant, Conall Doherty, Tim Peters
Student Electricians – THEA 210, 241, 295, and 395 Students

Properties Director
– Dave Doherty
Properties Graduate Assistants – Eric Brockmeier, Alicia Margerum, Ski Sciaraffa
Properties Shop Employees – Sarah Blickem, Elizabeth Nowak
Properties Shop 295/395 Employees– Lizzie Ciszczon, Dave Mortenson, Sasha Norman

Production Management
Technical Direction Advisor
– Tracy Nunnally
Production Assistant – Jordan Clifton
House Management Supervisor – Cornelia Hayes