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USD Theatre Presents Rare Tennessee Williams Play

Student actors as characters Alma Winemiller and John Buchanan Jr. in the play "The Eccentricities of a Nightingale." Alyssa Elbert and Jackson Whitaker in "The Eccentricities of a Nightingale."

VERMILLION, S.D. – The University of South Dakota’s Department of Theatre opens its 2019-2020 season with a trip to Mississippi in the 1910s with Tennessee Williams’ "The Eccentricities of a Nightingale." This achingly beautiful play is Williams’ revised and definitive version of his earlier play "Summer and Smoke." Through blending humor and pathos, realism and poetry, hope and regret, this play offers its audiences the opportunity to think deeply about their own experiences.

“I was drawn to 'The Eccentricities of a Nightingale' because of Tennessee Williams’ beautiful poeticism and relatable themes," said Director Oliver Mayes, a M.F.A. directing student. "The focus of our production is to hone in on issues that existed in the 1910s but still exist to this day. Alma Winemiller, the repressed minister's daughter, speaks her mind and doesn’t stay in line with society’s expectations of a woman, so she is belittled and excluded. But when you take a closer look at her, she’s not much different from many of us. We want to address these underlying issues within the piece.”

Alyssa Elbert, a musical theatre major who plays the lead role of Alma, said everyone will be able to relate to the play.

“It has themes of forbidden love, madness (especially within the family) and societal pressures," Elbert said. "Alma is an eccentric of the town. She doesn’t care what others think of her, and it leads to her being despised by the majority of the town.”

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"The Eccentricities of a Nightingale" performs Sept. 26-28 at 7:30 p.m. with a matinee performance on Sept. 29 at 2 p.m. in the Wayne S. Knutson Theatre on the USD campus. Tickets ($15 Adults, $12 Senior Citizen [62+], $10 K-12 & non-USD students with ID, and free for USD students with ID) can be purchased in the afternoons (12 – 5 p.m.) starting Sept. 19 at the USD Theatre Box Office or by calling (605)658-3484. Tickets can also be purchased now online at


USD's College of Fine Arts encourages students to pursue their chosen professional field in art, music or theater through their study with nationally recognized faculty who are working professionals. Students learn and grow to be professional fine artists with great job potential anywhere in the country. The college offers opportunities for additional real-world experiences through work with guest artists, study tours abroad and opportunities at the National Music Museum and the University Art Galleries on the Vermillion campus and the Black Hills Playhouse in Custer State Park. The college brings more than 80 guests artists to campus annually to work with students.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 84 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.


Hanna DeLange
USD News