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Tony Kushner's 'The Illusion' to be Performed from April 24 to May 3

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April 7, 2009 | by Judy Moore
EVANSTON, Ill. --- Tony Kushner's "The Illusion," loosely adapted from Pierre Corneille's 17th century classic farce "L'illusion Comique," is an entertaining comedic-drama that transports audiences from mayhem to magic and back again. It questions what it really means to love, and the obligations that may be connected with that emotion.

Performances are scheduled for 8 p.m. Friday, April 24; 8 p.m. Saturday, April 25; 2 p.m. Sunday, April 26; 8 p.m. Thursday, April 30; 8 p.m. Friday, May 1; 8 p.m. Saturday, May 2; and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 3, at the Theatre and Interpretation Center of Northwestern University's Josephine Louis Theater, 20 Arts Circle Drive, on the Evanston campus.

In association with the League of Chicago Theatres, the April 30 evening performance will be a Theatre Thursday event, featuring a pre-show, catered reception with a strolling magician and a post-show discussion with members of the cast and artistic team.

Set in a cave in 17th century France, "The Illusion" tells the story of an unyielding father who is filled with regret many years after banishing his son from the family home. By enlisting the aid of a magician, he is allowed to view three scenes from his son's life, only to learn his remorse may or may not have come too late.

"The Illusion" will be directed by Kathryn Walsh, a third-year Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) candidate in directing, as her thesis. Walsh has studied with Northwestern theater faculty members Anna D. Shapiro, Jessica Thebus, Amanda Dehnert, and Michael Rohd. During one of several off-campus projects Walsh assisted Shapiro on the world premiere of Tracy Letts' Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning play "August: Osage County" at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company.

Walsh was attracted by the masterful way Kushner reworked a classical text, and expanded the ideas to make them relevant to modern day audiences. A meditation on love and the juxtaposition of illusion and truth, Kushner plays within the framework of Corneille's original work, but with a different ending.

"What ultimately made me decide to direct this play was the thing I first found most disappointing -- it isn't a love letter to theatre. If it is, it's the kind of love letter that only the most complicated of love affairs would produce. It is full of pain and betrayal and sadness. It is a love letter that contains a warning not to let love make us blind," Walsh said.

"The Illusion" features an eight-member cast of Northwestern undergraduate students playing numerous characters. The production's stage set, designed by third-year M.F.A. design program student Sally Weiss, "magically" transforms, allowing audiences to view the characters from different angles. Izumi Inaba, also a third year M.F.A. design program student, created the fanciful 17th century costumes, which also feature a few surprises. Mike Stanfill, a second-year M.F.A. design program student, is the lighting designer.

"Illusion" is a two-act play recommended for high school age and adult audiences.

Single tickets are $20 for the general public; $18 for senior citizens and Northwestern faculty and staff; and $10 for full-time students and children.

Tickets for the April 30 League of Chicago Theatres Theatre Thursday event, including the production, are $25.

Single tickets to all productions may be purchased by phone through the Theatre and Interpretation Center Box Office at (847) 491-7282 or at the door prior to each performance. Tickets are also on sale at the Theatre and Interpretation Box Office or online at http://www.tic.northwestern.edu.