Northern Michigan University Theatre & Dance will present a performance of Oscar Wilde's Salome, a “darkly thrilling one-act tragedy” and lyrical drama that has inspired creative minds across the ages. The final performances are scheduled March 1-4.
The play is about Iokanaan, who has been imprisoned by King Herod and kept in a cistern below his palace's terrace. Herod's stepdaughter finds herself attracted to Iokanaan, and swears she will kiss him. The production is directed by David Wood, a distinguished professor of English at NMU who has also directed Shakespeare in the Woods at Presque Isle as well as some plays for the Superior Arts Youth Theater.
“Nothing could have prepared me for what it's like to have a dozen people from the theater and dance department working alongside me,” Wood said. “Whether it's costumes, makeup, scenic, lighting, sound; it's just been an incredible education for me, coming from the English department, to really see what the theater and dance program is really capable of. It's been wonderful.”
Salome was written by Irish Poet and Playwright Oscar Wilde in 1891 while living in Paris, and was finished the following January. This was Wilde's first attempt at writing in French, and it inspired Perisian actress, Sarah Bernhardt, who planned to produce it in London in 1892. While rehearsing the play, Salome was banned from being performed in Britain due to a 19th century law banning plays on biblical figures. However, with no such restriction on written works, the original French version of the book was published in France in 1893.
“The main theme that Dr. Wood is really trying to express throughout this production is the idea of 'desire,'” says NMU student and lead actor Liam Fisher. “ Every character desperately wants something. And you see them either try to fight their desires or give in completely. What the characters, or most of the characters, don't understand is that all of their desires have consequences, good or bad. It's your job to figure out which one that is!“
Salome is also a CO/Lab production, meaning that it will also incorporate members of the dance program for the play's famous “Dance of the Seven Veils,” where Salome dances before King Herod. While the dance itself is ambiguous in its choreography and meaning, it's to show Salome's desire of Iokanaan.
“The development of the story of Salome throughout the course of time is a very valuable history to know,” said NMU student and lead actress Maya Moreau.” In the gospel of Mark, the story of Salome is told in a much different context. Salome is not even a named figure. She is referred to as an unrighteous woman, who is used and manipulated by her mother, and stepfather in order to get what she wants. Oscar Wilde rewrote this story to place Salome in a position of power. With that being said, I feel it is my job as an actor to put Salome in that very position of power for all women who feel manipulated or used by a figure of authority who abuses their power. I will tell this story for them.”
Showtimes are at 7:30 p.m. in the Panowski Black Box Theatre. Tickets are $17 for the General Public, $12 for NMU Faculty/Staff, Seniors, and Military, $10 for Students, and $5 for NMU Students. Because of an issue with the electronic ticketing system, they can be obtained in person with cash or a credit card at the NMU Ticket Office in the Berry Event Center until 5 p.m. each day of the show, or an hour prior to showtime at the Panowski Black Box Theatre. All seating in the Panowski Black Box Theatre is general admission.
Note: This production contains strong adult themes and moments of intense violence.