Wednesday, March 26, 2008

When imagination provokes

?The Pillowman? to have reading at nexStage

Steve D'Smith plays a cop in an unnamed totalitarian state hot on the trail of a writer. Photo by David N. Seelig

Franz Kafka, who wrote a lot of funny lines despite being the darkest of dark writers, never wrote anything like "The Pillowman." Even Kafka had his boundaries.

Written by Irish playwright Martin McDonagh, a four-time Tony Award nominee, the Kafka-esque "Pillowman" is a departure from his other successful plays, which include "The Beauty Queen of Leenane" and "The Lieutenant of Inishmore."

"Pillowman" will be given a free staged reading at the nexStage Theatre in Ketchum on Thursday, March 27, at 6:30 p.m. Featured in this viciously funny and disturbing thriller will be Scott Creighton, Steve D'Smith, Jon Kane, David Blampied and Page Klune.

"The Pillowman," which won the Olivier Award in London for best new play in 2004, is about a fiction writer in a totalitarian state being investigated and interrogated because his stories contain particularly disturbing images. As such, be forewarned. The production contains strong language, adult themes and graphic descriptions of violence.

The play also won the Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play (Foreign), several Tony Awards, two Drama Desk awards and the Outer Critics Circle Award for actor Jeff Goldblum.

"It works on many levels," producer and actor Jon Kane said. "On the surface you can look at it as dark comedy and a bit of a murder mystery. On a deeper level it's about what the boundaries of creative expression are. It's an amazing work of art."

Kane, a New York native, saw a lot of theater growing up. He said the plays that have always attracted him are well-written plays "that hit you in the solar plexus. You think about it for days later. That's the kind of theater I really love. An perfect example of that kind of theater is 'The Pillowman.'"

What is art? How much is too much when it comes to fiction? Authors such as Valdimir Nabokov, Franz Kafka, Marcel Proust and Jack Kerouac all pushed limits of what had been acceptable before. But in the world of "The Pillowman" there is no possibility for the survival of such mavericks.

"I don't understand what I'm doing here," Katurain, the hero-prisoner says in the play. "I just write stories. That's all I do. That's my life. I stay in and I write stories, that's it."

Above all, "Pillowman" is a tale full of storytellers, each pushing their own agenda, own line of fantasy, all for the sake of theater itself.

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