Play chronicles theater revolution

By Laurel Marselle and Dave Gomez

NIU’s School of Theatre and Dance will present a new play chronicling the beginnings of the revolutionary theater group called “The Group!” at 7:30 p.m. today through Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Stevens Building’s Corner Theatre.

Tickets are $7 for students, $14 for general admission and $8 for seniors.

Playwright Ronald Rand said “The Group!” is a play nine years in the making about an influential American acting company that formed in the early 1930s. Several members went on to train acting greats such as Marlon Brando, Robert DeNiro and Warren Beatty.

“The play is about passion and fueling their love for the theater,” Rand said.

Rand said that after watching the Moscow Art Theater perform in 1923, founders Harold Clurman, Lee Strasberg and Cheryl Crawford created the Group Theater to teach a new system of acting.

The system, named the Meisner technique after member Sandy Meisner, emphasized a realistic acting style instead of the exaggerated and unsubtle method that was popular at the time, Rand said. Meisner also trained actor Gregory Peck as well as Kathryn Gately, an associate professor of theatre and dance at NIU.

A total of 16 NIU students appear in the play as well as two professors. Rand appears in the last scene.