InsideOUT

PRODUCED BY THE MARKETING DEPARTMENT OF THE DENVER CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS

J A N U A R Y

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ILLUSTRATION BY SCOTT MCKOWEN

Use of study guide materials for publication requires permission from the Marketing Department of The Denver Center for the Performing Arts.
© 2007 Denver Center Theatre Company

.......... storytelling............Community Services/Group Sales Manager Seth Holt ..... The police....893.. censorship and redemption—all punctuated by McDonagh’s black humor......... Administration 303............ Katurian has written the stories in quiet obscurity...... the writer Katurian is being interrogated about child murders similar to his bizarre stories involving grisly brutality......................4000 Box Office 303......... Katurian’s brother. —The Pillowman DENVER’S OFFICE OF CULTURAL AFFAIRS 2 ©2007 Denver Center Theatre Company .......................893...................Designer SYNOPSIS KATURIAN: “The first duty of a storyteller is to tell a story and I believe in that wholeheartedly. problem childhoods..................Director of Media & Marketing Sally Gass .... have also detained Michal......... violence...stupid to make anything up.....Contributing Writer Tina Risch.InsideOUT Jeff Hovorka ... As the mystery unfolds.4100 DENVERCENTER. and Katurian is distraught about the cruel treatment his brother may be suffering... the audience becomes involved in the playwright’s interwoven themes of artistic responsibility.. Tupolski and Ariel..ORG KATURIAN: I think people who only write about what they know only write about what they know because they’re too f-----........ Before this.” —The Pillowman In an unnamed totalitarian state....

The play garnered four Tony awards—best director.THE PLAYWRIGHT “I find that I enjoy telling interesting stories. so Martin wrote it down. he became so bored that he read a few books owned by his brother. the three plays became known as the Leenane trilogy. Finally. Also. In the meantime. arry Hynes of the Druid Theatre Company of Galway took a chance on The Beauty Queen of Leenane and produced it in 1995. “My kind of theatre incorporates as ©2007 Denver Center Theatre Company 3 . I love to surprise myself and make myself laugh. where they raised Martin and his older brother.Martin McDonagh M A artin McDonagh was born in England in 1970. In about 1991. all of which were rejected. the entire Leenane trilogy was staged at the Druid. And you know. His brother John liked the story. McDonagh’s first play (not counting the ones he scrapped) was The Beauty Queen of Leenane. It’s fun. After quitting high school. 2001. The younger McDonagh despised school. He wrote some TV scripts and short stories. When they left England. He admired the works of Harold Pinter and David Mamet. best actress. Its six-week run sold out almost immediately and it moved to Broadway. fter McDonagh turned 21 and lost his unemployment benefits. John. In 1998 Beauty Queen opened in New York at the Atlantic Theatre. became a comedy hit in New York. best featured actress and best featured actor. he took a job as a clerk at the Department of Trade and Industry. and his mother. Martin became interested in writing. But he continued to write. . Today Martin resides in a posh apartment by the Thames River in London. partly because he didn’t have to wake up at a set time and leave the house in the morning. you have to attempt to leave something decent ” behind you. an off-Broadway house. McDonagh doesn’t see many plays and feels that art that concerns political and social issues is dull. It was a huge success and subsequently toured Ireland. His father. The Lieutenant of Inishmore. He also sent 22 radio scripts to the BBC. The Cripple of Inishmann was produced in London and then New York. In 2001 he returned to that story and developed it into the play. supported by government aid. he discovered his own playwriting voice in his memories of childhood summer vacations spent in Ireland and conversations he had with his relatives. In the spring of 1999 Lonesome West opened in New York to favorable reviews. In 2006 McDonagh’s latest and most violent play. a construction worker. too. It was quickly followed by A Skull in Connemara and The Lonesome West. who was well-read and interested in screen-writing. He next moved on to plays for the legitimate stage. A Skull in Connemara premiered in February. had left Connemara. but his first G attempts were miserable Mamet rip-offs. both parents moved back to Ireland where they now live in semi-retirement in a village on the west coast near Galway. a part-time domestic worker. he could watch television whenever he wanted to take a break. Ireland in the mid-1960s and settled in South London. The genesis of The Pillowman began when McDonagh was 16. but had no success marketing them. Martin spent most of the next five years unemployed. Eventually. The production then moved to London where it played in the West End. he told his brother the story of a lonely little boy on a bridge who shares his supper with a sinister old man driving a cart filled with foul smelling cages. they gave the brothers the family’s row house in a working-class neighborhood in South London where the two lived.

47.these stories they encounter and explore the mysteries and puzzles of the adult world and sisters.” 2 Indeed. •Doves peck out the eyes of Cinderella’s step. “I think I’ve said enough as a young dramatist. Tatar. p. Green. and I have more to say than I haven’t said already. 13. O’Toole. •Briar Rose’s suitors bleed to death on the learn how to navigate reality to survive in a less-than-pleasant world. O’Toole. The Uses of Enchantment. Green. he has said he is using theatre to gain enough recognition and capital to begin making his own films. Bettelheim. children escape the unexpurgated edition. and throws her into a fire. hough the Grimm’s tales were originally written for adults. 3. March 6. hedge surrounding her castle. p. mutilation. 2. March 8.” Newsday. Maria. the surviving brother is sewn up in a sack and drowned. New •Frau Trude turns a girl into a block of wood York: Random House. 1977. stepmothers. p. 3. For example: drab realities of everyday life and take part in •Snow White’s stepmother arranges the murder the pleasures of defeating giants. television and pornography of their day. the remains of a brother’s murdered body.” —John Updike. Princeton. one is still “hardly prepared for the graphic descriptions of murder. Wallenstein T I 4 ©2007 Denver Center Theatre Company . Green. infanticide and incest that fill the pages of these bedtime stories for children. p. consider For all this violence in the imaginative world some of the Grimms’ fairy stories in an exposed by fairy tales. dices his corpse into small pieces and cooks him in a stew which her husband devours with pleasure. “The Doings of McDonagh. it will just feel like repeating the old tricks. 1998. a woman decapitates her stepson. Tatar. 2003. Bruno.” The New Yorker.” 1 f Katurian’s tales are macabre.” —Friedrich von Schiller (1759-1805). In of her stepdaughter. The Hard Facts of the Grimm’s Fairy •In The Singing Bone. “A Mind in Connemara.many cinematic elements as possible because I like films better than theatre. and he insists that he has no intention of writing another play. ogres and trolls—also known as grown ups. the life-lightening trash of And that’s just for starters! preliterate peoples. 12. when the bone reveals the secret of the fraticide to the “The fairy tales of my childhood have a meaning deeper than the truths taught by life. 2006 KATURIAN’S TALES and Fairy Tales world. NJ: Princeton University Press.” 3 1. a bone is whittled from Tales. cannabilism. 1. Until I’ve lived a little more and experienced a lot more things. Blake. Fintan. •A mad rage drives Rumpelstilskin to tear him“Folktales served as the self in two. •In The Juniper Tree.

121. These researchers concluded that “media violence can affect any child from any family regardless of social class or parenting. they proliferated everywhere. Super Heroes and MakeBelieve Violence.”5 1. In addition. TV and video game violence influence the actions of children? Many studies criticizing media and video violence existed before 1999. 2. The website www.” —Rap (Hubert Gerold) Brown. If these stories contributed to the crime. 5. S omeone has harmed children in a manner similar to Katurian’s stories.”1 They also inferred that every violent TV program seen increases the likelihood of a child growing up to behave more aggressively. Killian.com features a longitudinal study of a violent video game called Asheron’s Call 2. 2002.” Jones.about.com/od/cybermentalhealth/a/vidviolence ©2007 Denver Center Theatre Company 5 . p. Killing Monsters: Why Children Need Fantasy. In addition. Gerard.” 4 Violence won’t go away.mentalhealth. In one such examination done by the American Psychological Association with its results published in 2003. 5. The researchers in these studies found the results mixed and inconclusive. it begs the question: does movie. He reports that these players are not any more violent than any other cross-section of the population. http://www. a lifelong video games player and a national champion of Street Fighter (another popular video game). Cybercollege. Robert and Mintcheva. eds. researchers followed 329 subjects over 15 years. Cybercollege. p. The researchers.3 erhaps the problem of violence in children is evaluated best by Dr. “Violent Video Game Players Mysteriously Avoid Killing Selves. p.mentalhealth. p.”2 But other research reveals far different results. “It’s very much a problem of distinguishing reality from fantasy. but after the Columbine school disaster of that year. Killian. “you take something away from young people that they identify with so strongly and that so obviously speaks to them.com/violence http://www. Williams and Skoric. Williams and Skoric also reported this game playing was not a predictor of aggressive behavior. Ralph Di Clementi of Emory University. In fact.about. They found that those who as children were exposed to violent TV shows were much more likely to be convicted of a crime. 4. Seth Killian. 124. Svetlana.WHAT ABOUT MEDIA and Video Violence? “Violence is as American as cherry pie. press conference. Jones. 3.cybercollege. Atkins. a leading authority on adolescent behavior. 200. 2006. 1. who has evaluated many hostile children. p. July 1969. Jones. found that players who played this game an average of 56 hours over a month’s time were no different from the nonplaying control group in their beliefs on aggression. writes Dr. a forensic psychologist. a venue to find respect. he writes that “by allowing them a measure of control over an otherwise chaotic life. Even if one succeeded in doing away with TV and video games. Others. She feels those who act aggressively confuse their own emotional reactions with reality. Seth.” New York: Basic Books. Helen Smith. New York: The New Press. Censoring Culture. has P attended video game tournaments at several universities.” these players made friends and found jobs. or a way of defusing daily frustrations. they charge “‘the bang-bang-you’redead’ sanitized scenarios seen on TV or films communicates nothing of the reality of death or dying.

American Enterprise Institue. Inc. John H. by and large. Interviewed in Christianity Today.3 n the other side of the argument. 1997. 2.” —Robert H. recordings and the Internet cannot be covered by the “freedom of the press” amendment because they can be published at once all over the country and distributed to everyone. we have rid ourselves of all restraints. “The brutes. former CEO of Disney. they would be guided by laws. “[The media’s] effect is. decide what will be available for viewing.”1 Just as we are concerned about prevention of disease and the pollution of our air and water. “The mass media are the prime educational force in the country. many people believe we should be concerned about moral pollution. Olin scholar in Legal Studies and former Supreme Court nominee. Pressed by science and secular intellectuals to liberate ourselves from Puritan prudery. often motivated primarily by profit.CENSORSHIP: Pro and Con “Sooner or later censorship is going to have to be considered as popular culture continues plunging to ever more sickening lows.”2 ome argue that movies. many entertainment executives look to it when they release vile programs or records with repugnant lyrics. open inspection and subject to review by higher courts. 3.” they say. Bork. lechers and slobs the media tend to produce have no love or aptitude for republican government. “The government and government alone has a chance of blocking this descent into decadence. Michael Eisner.4 Eisner believes it is the media’s responsibility to edit itself—not to stifle conflict or conviction..” many believe that unseen figures in movie studios and television networks. that they believe undermines the American family of today. S T upolski and Ariel seek to find a killer of children who may have been influenced by Katurian’s stories. “Since the government won’t tell us what we can’t do. “thinking we can satis- O fy all natural appetites while remaining civilized and free. Censorship in this day and age seems to focus on the mass media—film. Some advocates of censorship believe boards of censors must be renewed by persuading distinguished citizens to serve. they cracked down on the “seven dirty words” and Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” at the Super Bowl. video games and the internet. 4. television. Those who feel the mass media must be controlled rest their arguments on the following premises: 1. As to the complaint “I don’t want anybody telling me what I can or cannot see. therefore. Because the First Amendment gives us freedom of speech. May 19. never before has our society been subjected to such persistent assaults of immorality. believes that the media should practice self-censorship. 6 G roups who take the stance against censorship in this country cite the First Amendment to the Constitution which ©2007 Denver Center Theatre Company . Television and radio are regulated by the Federal Communications Commission which stipulates that programming must be in the public interest. we have to tell ourselves what we can’t do. music. They threaten to execute Katurian and destroy his stories—the ultimate form of censorship. television. sexual and otherwise. According to some who support the censorship of popular culture. but to make sure the program is one of good taste and good judgment. pernicious—to the qualities required of mature citizens in a civilized republic.

political activists and all other citizens of the United States are given the right to freely express themselves and their beliefs no matter who opposes them or takes offense. p. cwrl.org/newswire/ T L he Free Expression Network reports on a joint statement issued by the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression. 4.” Postrel.edu/anticensorship. p. They maintain it is not the government’s role to evaluate the worth of expression or to determine “good” from “bad” speech. the Authors Guild and the PEN American Center. 150. our creative achievements. “Free speech lies at the core of our spiritual life.. Censorship: Opposing Viewpoints.” Lowenthal. Lowenthal. 160. San Diego: Greenhaven Press. “It is fatal to moral. html www. utexas-edu. Michael. David. “Free speech enhances shared values.” www. freeexpression. 2006. 162. oss is at the heart of the arguments against censorship. Inc. it is only by confronting controversial speech that the merits of that speech can be tested. 2. 6. Artists. 152. Censoring Culture. Atkins. 3. ed. “Censorship is an opening to religious. 4. “The Entertainment Industry Should not be Censored. they state it is the parents’ responsibility to determine what materials are appropriate for their children and themselves. musicians. Tamara L. 2002. www. Svetlana. the American Society of Journalists and Authors.”5 creators but the audience for which they create and the posterity that inherits that legacy. In addition. Eisner. 5. New York: New Press. the Association of American University Presses. tolerance and diversity that underlie American culture. “The Entertainment Industry Should Practice Self-Censorship. our economic vitality. for it “curbs new ideas that hurt not only individual ©2007 Denver Center Theatre Company 7 . In their position they argue: 1. “In a democratic society it is impossible at all times to agree on the value of all ideas. 5. Eisner. 3. Robert and Mintcheva. the Association of American Publishers. “The Entertainment Industry Should be Censored. scientific advancement and the very means by which we govern ourselves. artistic and intellectual growth if everyone agreed on the same idea. Postrel. Lowenthal. 156. not the government’s. eds. cwrl. p. p.”6 1.utexas. Virginia. artistic and intellectual repression. Roleff. Lowenthal. 2.grants us freedom of speech. p. political.

http://matthewfreeman.THE RESPONSIBILITY of the Artist “The intellect of man is forced to choose Perfection of the life. 2. David Hare. The Choice W hen the British playwright. In other words. in their chosen medium. 3. the first responsibility of the artist is toward his work. but one of his own. London: Faber and Faber. a Brooklyn-based playwright. tolerance and understanding. 7. 5. thus achieving a psychological experience at the expense of both. Hare. but is a power of man.” Maritain said.” Oct.”1 Hare had made the choice to be the one to voice his controversial play. Freeman. And if it take the second must refuse A heavenly mansion.”5 As Freeman said. 1999. The Responsibility of the Artist. “Art is a virtue of the practical intellect. “The sole responsibility of the artist is to ask questions or make statements as beautifully or as brutally as they can. 6. 4. If an artist feels he should shake up the middle class by depicting violently tortured figures. the artist concerns himself with things he believes or loves. Matthew. would express the artists’ responsibility in another way. 2.edu/Departments/Maritain/etext/resart 2htm 8 ©2007 Denver Center Theatre Company .”2 Jacques Maritain (1882-1973). and the intellect itself does not stand alone. Maritain.”6 Maritain’s lofty language is summed up by Matthew Freeman. Via Dolorosa. Otherwise.”7 1. 12. Jacques. Acting Up. it demands it to be used as an instrument in creating a work of worth or beauty. On Theatre and Politics. foolish or momentous to deliver to his audience. 2. he should follow that impulse wherever it takes him and not look back. but the beauty or perfection of the artifact or product. p. 24. There is always a danger when artists ‘check’ their impulses in favor of good taste or pleasing an audience. p. His reply? “Because I had to. The artist must not bend or change his work even if critics say others will be led astray by it. raging in the dark. p. on Broadway someone asked him why he was doing this. also believes each artist has a choice. Maritain adds. I think that’s burden enough. was performing his one man play. 8. “The Responsibility of the Artist. “Each artist has a personal vision distinct from the others and (must) carry it through. be it silly. Therefore. French philosopher. and into the reader (viewer). the creative intuition does not rule out the use of Reason. 9.”3 The good that Art pursues is not the good of the human will. Freeman. a distinct responsibility to choose what he/she believes in or cares about. he should do the same. “Art is concerned with the good of the work. there is a possibility he has nothing to say. But. David. Freeman. p. a writer should have a message. the artist ‘unloads’ himself in his work and “pours his own complexes and poisons into it. the work should not be interfered with or ruled by anything other than itself. his own subjectivity—through the instrumentality of his virtue of art. In this sense. p. “What the artist expresses and manifests first and foremost in his work is his own self. not necessarily a proper artistic one. Thus. If another wants to promote universal love. not with the good of man. Maritain.blogspot.1. Matthew Freeman. Maritain.” —William Butler Yeats. p. http://www2nd. or of the work. 2005.com Hare.4 But an artist also grasps things through emotion which affords a particular kind of knowledge that can only be expressed through a work of art. 101. p. Maritain. Maritain.

A NOTE ABOUT CHILDREN APPEARING IN The Pillowman I P n the words of director Anthony Powell.” Given the graphic nature of The Pillowman. They invariably feature profanity and adult subjects. “His plays are funny. “The last thing the production team here at the DCTC wants to do is give two fledgling actors a permanent case of the heebie-jeebies.” owell explained to parents the details of the violence depicted in the play and asked parents to read the script.” ©2007 Denver Center Theatre Company 9 . and it’s our intention to locate a couple of young people (and also their parents) who can take the creepier elements of The Pillowman for what they are: imaginary sequences that tell a terrifying bedtime story to an audience of grown-ups. Very strong stuff. the production team at the Denver Center Theatre Company (DCTC) took great care in casting children for McDonagh’s play. “It’s strong stuff. He intends his tales to teach life lessons (almost like something out of folk-tales by The Brothers Grimm). “Those of you familiar with other works by the same author know that his writing is intense. Before any children auditioned for any of the roles in the play. “Working on stage should—first and foremost—be a lot of fun to do. Of all his scripts. It concerns the arrest and interrogation of a writer whose grisly stories about the dangers of childhood are being acted out in the real world by an actual murderer. but unfortunately. the stories begin to take on a scary life of their own.” Powell wrote.” Powell wrote. so it’s very important parents and kids alike read the scenes and discuss what it might mean to appear in them six nights a week. McDonagh’s The Pillowman may be the most extreme of the bunch. but cruel. parents received a detailed word of caution from the director and copies of the portions of the script in question. they often depict violence. to say the least. The staging of the play was also discussed with parents before rehearsals began.

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