‘A Bright Room Called Day’ explores political themes


Mark Gardner,MFA graduate student, (in white) as “Husz,” and BFA student Matt Yee (seated) as “The Devil” perform in the School of Theatre and Dance’s new production “Bright Room Called Day,” which will be opening on January 1st.

By Beth Schumacher

The School of Theatre and Dance catalyzes political and personal thought in the upcoming production of “A Bright Room Called Day.”

The play will run 7:30 p.m. today until Feb. 10 at the Players Theatre in the Stevens Building. Sunday’s show starts at 2 p.m.

Inspired by Bertolt Brecht’s play, “The Private Life of the Master Race,” “Bright Room” playwright Tony Kushner delves deep into 1930s Germany during the rise of Hitler and the Nazi Party.

The play focuses on the reactions of an actress and her group of friends who live an anti-bigotry lifestyle during this dark time in history.

The play also jumps to New York in 1990s as a young woman is frightened by the similarities she sees in her comparison of then-President Ronald Reagan to Adolf Hitler.

“It was cool to see how they meshed the two story lines,” said Katie Hochleutner, costume crew member and senior dance performance major. “It flowed well together.”

The subplot allows for a deep comparison of the two time periods and slowly erases the difference. It’s a good example of how important history is to the present.

Director Alexander Gelman, who has been directing at NIU for nearly 10 years, believes the play is more than just a comparison between Hitler and Reagan.

“A great play has a great way of helping us recognize ourselves,” Gelman said. “It’s an interactive art form and the hope is we take a journey and the audience takes a part.”

There’s no surprise that this play raises multiple questions, and even a few eyebrows, due to its award-winning playwright, Kushner. Kushner has won several titles, including the Pulitzer Prize for his play “Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes.” His controversial opinions reach out to the audience and challenges them to think.

Kushner, like Brecht, is also known for his desire to have the audience involved in the production. Their shared love for creating this atmosphere by not disguising lights or wires allows for the audience to receive that sense of being at a theater production.

There’s a line at the end of the play: “I don’t want to be a settler, I wanna be an un-settler.” This line is possibly the most essential when beginning to identify your journey.

For ticket information, visit the School of Theatre and Dance box office or call it at 815-753-1600.