NIU SOTD debuts performance season with ‘Melancholy Play’

NIU’s latest theatrical production features absurdity and almonds


Abby Lamoreaux

The entrance to the Black Box Theatre located in the Stevens Building on NIU campus. (Abby Lamoreaux | Northern Star)

DeKALB – The NIU School of Theatre and Dance kicks off the 2022-2023 performance season with Sarah Ruhl’s “Melancholy Play,” directed by NIU voice and movement professor Bethany Mangum-Oles. 

Performances will take place in the Black Box Theatre located at Stevens Building. The first showing will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday, followed by three more evening showings on Sept. 24, 29, 30 and two 2 p.m. showings on Sept. 25 and Oct. 1.

The promotional poster for “Melancholy Play” produced by the NIU School of Theatre and Dance. The first showing is at 7:30 p.m. Friday. (Courtesy NIU School of Theatre and Dance)

Senior acting major Naava Ofri-Akman stars as Tilly, a girl whose melancholy attracts the love of strangers. Ofri-Akman has previously appeared in multiple NIU productions, including “A Bird in the Hand,” “Everybody” and “The Language Archive.” Ofri-Akman is joined by acting majors senior Wesley Hutchinson (Frank),  senior Matthew Judd (Lorenzo), junior Kristen Serbia (Frances) and sophomore Gabby Gozdecki (Joan).

“Melancholy Play” is about Tilly and how her melancholy causes everyone around her to fall in love with her. Then one day, Tilly is happy. This causes chaos among those who have fallen for her. Tilly’s hairdresser, Frances, becomes so melancholy that she turns into an almond, and only Tilly can bring her back.

With themes such as sadness, love and commonalities of the human experience, “Melancholy Play” is a production with a lot of absurdity and almonds. The play features a live cello and singing performances, along with attentive acting and highly emotional moments.

NIU students have free admission to every theatre production on campus. Tickets are $17 for adults, $15 for seniors and $9 for non-NIU students. Tickets are on sale online, through the box office email at or the box office’s phone number at 815-713-1600.

A trailer for the show is available on YouTube.