Steppenwolf Drops Child Actress from Controversial The Pain and The Itch

News   Steppenwolf Drops Child Actress from Controversial The Pain and The Itch The world premiere of The Pain and the Itch by Bruce Norris has been a popular hit for Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre Company, but the troupe's use of a child actress in the controversial comedy has not been popular with some viewers.

After articles in the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times questioned the propriety of exposing a seven-year-old performer to the curse words and sexual content found in the script, Steppenwolf released one of the girls who plays the part, Darragh Quinn Dolan, from the play.

According to the company, Dolan's parents had asked for two revisions in the script. However, Dolan's mother, Michelle, told the Sun-Times that her daughter's departure was not due to any request to alter lines.

"We were twice blindsided with negative articles questioning our role as parents and our daughter's well-being without ever being afforded the opportunity to defend ourselves," she was quoted as saying.

Pain is described as a "dark, dark comedy that challenges the safety and comfort of American life." It takes place in the home of Clay and Kelly, an upper-middle-class couple in Chicago who find that some unknown creature has invaded their home and is eating the avocados in the kitchen.

According to the Sun-Times, young Dolan was exposed to profane arguments concerning infidelity and overhears the sounds of a pornographic video. Lillian Almaguer, who alternates with Dolan in the part, will stay with the production. She will perform the role all nights until a replacement for Dolan can be found. The play, which ends Aug. 29, also stars Tracy Letts, Mariann Mayberry, Kate Arrington, Jayne Houdyshell (Well), James Vincent Meredith and Zak Orth Misalliance). Anna D. Shapiro directs.

During the recent Broadway season, the performance of child actress Madeleine Martin in the macabre The Pillowman provoked similar interests—though no public outrage. In the play, Martin's character believes she is the reincarnation of Jesus and is subsequently nailed to a cross and buried alive. Martin, however, has been quoted as saying she finds the role "fun." She has remained with the play during its run.

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