The Pillowman

April 15-17 & 22-24, 2010

written by Martin McDonagh
directed by David Fox

Weber Theatre, Watson Fine Arts


Katurian Patrick McCormick’10
Tupolski Jon Schwartz ’10
Ariel Adam Wilson ’11
Michal Sean Clarke ’10
Child Jenny Brum ’12
Mother Laura Goldstein ’12
Father Morgan Shattuck ’11


Director David Fox
Scene & Costume Designer Clinton O’Dell
Lighting & Sound Design/
Technical Director
David Cook
Stage Violence Choreographer Normand Beauregard
Scenic Artist
Josh DeLisle
Prop Buyer
Tracey Cook
Foley Artist Libby Froeber ’12
Stage Manager
Emily Karelitz ’10
Assistant Stage Manager
Stephanie Antetomaso ’12
Light Board Operator
Molly Tobin ’13
Sound Board Operator/
Laura Donovan ’12
Technicians Phoebe Boyd ’12
Sean Clark ’10
Warren Garceau ’10
Joshua Gilpatrick ’10
Heather Gordon ’13
Josephine Johnson ’13
Jordan Lewis ’12
Catherine Oakley ’13
Becky Rafe ’10
Jesse Shaw ’12
Emily Tabor ’10

Director’s Notes on Martin McDonagh and The Pillowman

This past winter, I was one of several individuals interviewed online by London theatre critic Matt Wolf for an article he was preparing on playwright Martin McDonagh. What follows are some excerpts from that interview.

“For me, the thematic centerpiece of The Pillowman is the sanctity of the written word, the sanctity of artistic expression—even under the direst of circumstances. Child abuse, police brutality, how we regard and treat mental illness figure into the play’s landscape, but in a slightly more minor key. The  focus as the curtain falls is on whether those stories live or die. The nameless totalitarian state that is the play’s setting could represent any number of institutions with an inclination towards censorship and self-preservation: governments, businesses, Houses of Learning, Houses of Culture, Houses of God.”

“McDonagh, most definitely, is not a writer offering solutions, pallid social bromides about right vs. wrong. He is horrified by our world, I think, but like Samuel Beckett, his funny bone simply will not die. Suffering and those who revel in inflicting suffering are timeless facts of life. He puts the sordid truth front and center and asks us to confront it, and he still manages to make us laugh at the carnage. If McDonagh lacked a core of compassion, he wouldn’t bother to write these plays at all. He cares, but he can only be a bewildered, bothered, and bemused observer. Why should we expect anything different?”

“All of McDonagh’s settings—the Irish ones, the unnamed totalitarian state in The Pillowman, and the dilapidated hotel room in the current Broadway success A Behanding In Spokane—function a bit like the American Wild West or Seagoing Adventure  backdrops of countless Hollywood films. They’re all outposts: untamed locations in which our primal tendencies surge to the surface, therapeutic arenas for the display of rebellious and often violent behavior. This is not absolute realism at all. As a writer for the theatre, McDonagh offers a metaphorical world, a place rough and rocky, stripped of civil veneer, that allows him to explore the emotional misfit in all of us. Flawed though many of his characters are, they are also intensely human. McDonagh’s people could not reveal as much in a tamer, more cloistered environment.”

“The Irish setting in The Pillowman disappears, but we’re still inhabiting a cold, inhospitable outpost, and McDonagh’s trademark plot twists and ability to shock and amuse simultaneously remain very much intact. What separates The Pillowman for me as a play from other McDonagh plays is that it feels more personal. The playwright’s emotional investment goes deeper. Autobiographical readings are always dangerous, but it is desperately difficult to separate the plight of Katurian from the plight of McDonagh. The Pillowman, like McDonagh’s other works, delivers a magnificent story told by an expert storyteller, but unlike other plays, it places the storyteller at the center of the story. Pretty clever. More textured, more multilayered, more deeply felt than some of his other material.”

­—David Fox