The SHSU Department of Theatre and Dance begins its run of the Tennessee Williams’ production Not About Nightingales on Wednesday, Oct. 29 through Saturday, Nov. 1 in the University Theatre. The show will be every night at 8:00 p.m. with an additional 2:00 p.m. matinee on Saturday.
Not About Nightingales, directed by SHSU musical theatre alumni Patrick Pearson, was inspired by a 1938 headline about a Pennsylvania prison scandal that shocked the nation with the inhuman treatment of prisoners who organized a hunger strike.
At the time, Williams was unable to get the show produced because of its violent nature. Williams later said, “I have never written anything since that could compete with its violence and horror.”
The Williams classic remained hidden for 60 years until actress Vanessa Redgrave discovered the manuscript and worked to get it produced in 1998. In conjunction with the Royal National Theatre, the Moving Theatre and Houston’s
Alley Theatre, the play was released and later opened on Broadway in 1999 to Tony Award winning success.
Not About Nightingales tells the story of inmates in an American prison in the 1930’s. Canary Jim (Matt Tompkins), a prisoner up for parole, falls in love with Eva (Andrea Haring) who is the new prison secretary. Both find it hard for their love to blossom under the watchful eye of Warden Whalen (Daniel Colosky), whose sole purpose is to keep control of his prison.
The play contains many more colorful characters played by Spencer Plachy, Mike Bell, TJ Chasteen, Sarah Chmura, JC Coughlin, Bernard Davis, James Lane, Bobby Martinez, Rick Olvera, Matt Radcliffe, Byron Shoemaker, Ashley Simon, Daniel Tiner, Ronnie Williams and Chris Wingler. Designers include SHSU theatre faculty Don Childs on set and lights, senior theatre major Tracy Crowston on costumes and junior theatre major Aaron Elfstron on sound. The stage manager is senior theatre major Grant Gonsoulin.
Patrick Pearson, Not About Nightingale’s director, directed All In the Timing in Summer I Rep at SHSU. He is currently Musical Director for Company at SHSU and is Director for Rich, Red Clay by student Dave Ervin which was entered in the new play division at ACTF and has been nominated to go to the Regional level in February.
Not About Nightingales will be SHSU’s 2003-2004 entry into the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, which is a nation wide college competition, with the ultimate goal of performing at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.
The first performance of this competition will be held November 8, 2003 at 12:00 p.m. at the University of Texas in Tyler.
Not About Nightingales contains adult language and content so it is not recommended for children. Tickets are $10 for general admission and $8 for SHSU student, faculty, staff and senior citizens. You can reserve your tickets by calling the University Theatre Center Box Office at 936-294-1339.