Northern Illinois University

NIU Office of Public Affairs

News Release

Contacts: Robert Schneider, NIU School of Theatre and Dance
(815) 753-8263

David W. Booth/Cora Vasseur, NIU School of Theatre and Dance
(815) 753-1337

April 13, 2007

NIU School of Theatre and Dance’s ‘Third Onion’
presents Suzan-Lori Parks’ ‘Topdog/Underdog’

DeKalb — The Northern Illinois University School of Theatre and Dance's all-student run “The Third Onion” theater company presents “Topdog/Underdog,” a 2002 Pulitzer Prize winning play by Suzan-Lori Parks, opening May 2.

The play revolves around the relationship of two jealous and feuding brothers, living in a confined apartment and trying to cope with women, work, gambling, racism and their troubled upbringings.

Brothers Lincoln and Booth have had to depend upon each other for survival since they were teenagers, after their second parent had abandoned them. Now in their 30s, the brothers struggle to make new lives for themselves that will lead them out of poverty.

Lincoln, a master of the con game Three-Card Monte, has abandoned the life of crime for a more respectable job impersonating Abraham Lincoln at an arcade. Booth, on the other hand, earns his living as a petty thief, but wishes to emulate his older brother’s past success by learning how to “throw the cards” and wants Lincoln to teach him. The problem is that Lincoln has sworn off cards.

The two man show co-stars junior B.F.A. acting candidates Jon McFarlane and Charles Gardner. Gardner is also producing and directing the production. He says that he had been planning to produce this play for some time and had to fight for his opportunity to finally present it. 

Gardner most recently appeared onstage as the Brazilian transvestite in “A Time to Burn” and finds the characters in “Topdog/Underdog” just as challenging and complex.

McFarlane was ecstatic to take the role that his acting idol, Jeffery Wright, once performed. “Charles and I had enormous amounts of fun learning Three Card Monte.”

Daniel’e Taylor, M.F.A. candidate in costume design, will design the costumes for the production.

The play will run Wednesday, May 2, through Friday, May 4, at the Stevens Building Corner Theatre. Performance times for all three days will be 7:30 pm. The Stevens Building is located on the NIU campus behind the McDonald’s and Pizza Hut restaurants on East Lincoln Highway.

Tickets are $3 and available only at the door. More information is available by contacting Robert Schneider at the School of Theatre and Dance at (815) 753-8263.

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