To understand the plight of a playwright, take the story of one Martin McDonagh. He was born in London, where he stayed and lived with his brother after his parents moved back to Galway, Ireland. He left school at the age of sixteen and spent five years writing radio plays. He collected rejection notice after rejection notice until finally, two of his plays were accepted halfway across the globe in Australia.
His plight soon took flight, though. By the time he was 27, his first play, The Beauty Queen of Leenane, was running at The Royal Court in London simultaneously with three others. (A feat not matched since the Bard.) The other three were the remainder of the Leenane trilogy, A Skull in Connemara and The Lonesome West, and an earlier work, The Cripple of Inishmaan which is playing in its area premiere at Minneapolis' Theatre in the Round through Oct. 8. The production opened Sept. 15.
In Inishmaan, foster child "Cripple Billy" is a young misfit who pines for a normal life and may just get it when filmmaker Robert Flaherty's documentary crew comes to town.
Sears Eldredge directs a cast that includes Kevin Carnahan, Troy Deutsch, Michael Gillespie, John Lilleberg, Linda Metcalf, Marilyn Murray, Anita O'Sullivan, Katherine Tanner, and Wade Vaughn. Set design is provided by Nikki Schlepp, costumes by Carolann Winter, props by Roxanne Skarphol, lights by Thomas C. Mendenhall, and sound by Katharine Horowitz.
* Now in their 49th year, the Theatre in the Round Players continue their 2000-2001 season, which boasts five area premieres. The season started with the area premieres of Impossible Marriageby Pulitzer Prize-winner Beth Henley, and Shivaree by William Mastrosimone.
McDonagh's Inishmaan was the third area premiere at TRP. Howard Richardson and William Berney's Dark of the Moon will follow, playing Oct. 20 - Nov. 12. In it, a Smoky Mountain villager falls under the spell of a witch boy who is turned human for as long as she stays true to him. Directed by Joel Sass.
Director Scott Rubsam takes on Absurd Person Singular by Alan Ayckbourn (Taking Steps and How The Other Half Loves, both previously mounted by TRP) Nov. 24 - Dec. 17 at the TRP. Absurd is Ayckbourn's most popular comedy and is about three couples' three different Christmas party disasters.
Perhaps the most provocative of the season is 2 by Romulus Linney. The area premiere set in 1945 Germany at the onset of the Nuremberg Trials will occupy the theatre Jan. 5-28, 2001. Focusing on Hermann Goering, Hitler's No. '2', who helped build the Third Reich. Directed by G. J. Clayburn.
Peter Shaffer (Amadeus and Equus) penned Lettice and Lovage about a British tour guide who embellishes so much that she gets fired, but because of her romantic world view befriends the woman who fired her. Directed by Linda Paulsen, the comedy runs Feb. 9 - Mar. 4, 2001.
Shakespeare's shipwreck saga is marooned at TRP from Mar. 16 - Apr. 15, 2001. The Tempest, about the usurped Duke of Milan, Prospero and his daughter Miranda is presented under the direction of Craig Johnson.
The final area premiere of the season comes with Off the Map Apr. 27 - May 20, 2001. The play by Joan Ackermann centers on a New Mexican native who as a young girl lived off the land and hoped for a miracle. Her answer comes in the form of a displaced IRS agent. Directed by Lynn Musgrave.
Closing the millennial season will be the George Bernard Shaw classic Candida. The comedy about a Victorian love triangle between a reverend, his wife, and a poet, runs from June 1 -24, 2001.
Theatre in the Round Players was founded in 1952, with three other theatres in the Twin Cities: The Old Log in Excelsior and, the Edythe Bush and the Group Theatre in St. Paul. Today, the Minnesota area has over 150 theatre groups, and some major theaters including the Guthrie, the Childrens Theatre, and TRP. Next year will be their 50th season.
The play-by-play lineup for the TRP is as follows:
Cripple of Inishmaan by McDonagh Sept. 15-Oct. 8
Dark of the Moon by Richardson & Berney Oct. 20 - Nov. 12
Absurd Person Singular by Ayckbourn Nov. 24 - Dec. 17
2 by Linney January 5 - 28, 2001
Lettice and Lovage by Shaffer Feb. 9 - Mar. 4, 2001
The Tempest by Shakespeare Mar. 16 - Apr. 15, 2001
Off the Map by J. Ackermann Apr. 27 - May 20, 2001
Candida by Shaw June 1 -24, 2001