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John Kinzer
IU Department of Theatre and Drama

Last modified: Monday, March 12, 2012

IU Theatre brings gripping, haunting 'The Pillowman' to stage

WHAT: "The Pillowman" by Martin McDonagh. Directed by Mark Kamie.
WHEN: Opens 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 23. Additional performances at 7:30 p.m. March 24, 27, 28, 29 and 30; and at 2 and 7:30 p.m. March 31.
WHERE: All performances take place at the Wells-Metz Theatre, Lee Norvelle Theatre and Drama Center, 275 N. Jordan Ave. No photography or recording of any kind is permitted during performances.
TICKETS: Regular admission is $25 for adults, $15 for students, $20 for senior citizens; student rush tickets are $10 cash with a valid IU Bloomington student ID on the day of each performance.
OTHER: "The Pillowman" contains mature content. Join IU Theatre for "Martin McDonagh: The Paradoxes of Comedy and Violence," a Theatre Circle Lecture by IU professor Stephen Watt, at 5:30 p.m. March 22 in the Studio Theatre.

March 12, 2012

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- IU Theatre's 2011-12 season continues with Martin McDonagh's gripping and haunting play "The Pillowman," opening at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 23.


Tupolski (played by first-year MFA acting student Aaron Kirkpatrick) interrogates Katurian (played by third-year MFA acting student Jaysen Wright) while Ariel (played by IU senior Chris Kleckner) threatens to beat the truth out of him in IU Theatre's production of Martin McDonagh's "The Pillowman."

Print-Quality Photo

Led by third-year MFA director Mark Kamie, who has taken on the project as his directing thesis, "The Pillowman" was described by New York Times chief theater critic Ben Brantley as "a spellbinding stunner of a play (that) speaks to fears people mistakenly think they leave behind when they outgrow night lights." It has been performed around the world, receiving several notable awards and recognitions along the way, including an Olivier Award for best new play in 2004.

On the surface, "The Pillowman" is a thriller/dark comedy about a writer named Katurian (played by third-year MFA actor Jaysen Wright, performing his thesis role) who is being interrogated by police because of the graphic and disturbing nature of his stories. Katurian's books describe child murder and mutilation -- and when real-life crimes in the town where he lives seem to replicate his original fables, he becomes a suspect and faces a brutal interrogation.

In the eyes of Kamie, "The Pillowman" has far more to offer than chills and thrills.

"The shell of the play is a thriller, and within it is pitch-black humor," he said. "It is a play about the power of storytelling to help us overcome isolation and despair. Katurian writes stories to make sense of the chaos in his life."

Regarding the difficult subject matter, Kamie did not hesitate in declaring: "This is not a play for the faint of heart." Yet he said shock and discomfort are not the primary intent of the story, adding, "'The Pillowman' raises ethical questions for the audience to chew on after leaving the theater. Is it right to murder? If so, when? Is it right to torture? If so, when? In this world, murder can be both cruel and an act of mercy."

McDonagh's other plays include "The Beauty Queen of Leenane," "The Cripple of Inishmaan," "The Lonesome West" and "A Behanding in Spokane." In addition to the Oliver award for "The Pillowman," he has received several Tony Award nominations for his work. His 2008 film "In Bruges" garnered him an Academy Award nomination for best original screenplay and also won the Irish Playwrights and Screenwriters Guild award. He received an Academy Award for his 2005 short film "Six Shooter."

In addition to Wright as Katurian, IU Theatre's production of "The Pillowman" will feature first-year MFA actor Aaron Kirkpatrick as Tupolski; senior Chris Kleckner as Ariel; senior Matt Birdsong as Michal; senior Tad Tobey as Father; senior Hannah Kennedy as Mother; junior Gabi Knoepfle as Girl; and Arlington Heights Elementary student Edward C. Jackson as Boy.

Joining Kamie's creative team are first-year MFA scenic designer Dan Tracey; first-year MFA costume designer Julia Mancini; first-year MFA lighting designer Derek Jones; second-year MFA sound designer Amanda Wray; third-year MFA technical director Sean Dumm; senior stage manager Julie Hurley; and assistant director Katherine Taylor.