"Lord of the Flies"
Updated: November 15, 2013 6:03AM
Director Halena Kays was living in the Bible Belt, attending a high school in Tennessee, when “a pretty great English teacher” gave her class a list of reading options.
“Some books, like William Golding’s ‘Lord of the Flies’ and Henry Miller’s ‘Tropic of Cancer,’ were more controversial than others,” said Kays. “We chose the most salacious or the shortest.”
Kays read “Lord of the Flies,” the story of a group of English schoolboys stranded on a deserted island after a plane crash. Their initially playful attempts at self-governing gradually turn into a vicious battle between two “tribes” — one trying to maintain civility, the other reveling in savagery.
Now, as part of the Steppenwolf Young Adults series that performs for school groups on weekdays but opens its doors to the public on weekends, Kays is directing Nigel Williams’ stage adaptation of the 1954 novel written in the wake of World War II and ITS savagery.
Kays’ 12 actors, ranging in age from 13 to early twentysomething, (and with various levels of theatrical experience) have discussed many things during rehearsals, “from recent bullying and hazing incidents, to mob mentality, to the charismatic quality of cult leaders, to a world where wars can be found both at home and globally.”
“It’s been great to have a room full of rowdy, fun boys full of testosterone. But in rehearsals there also has been a lovely reversal of the play, with one kid even teaching another how to knot his tie.”
“Lord of the Flies” runs Oct. 16–Nov. 10. For tickets ($20) call (312) 335-1650; www.steppenwolf.org. — Hedy Weiss