Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Pillowman

Written by Martin McDonagh
Directed by Greg Cicchino
Produced by Variations Theatre Group

Nominated for: Outstanding Actor in a Featured Role, Deven Anderson; Outstanding Innovative Design, Aaron Gonzalez and David Rey


About the Production
The Pillowman centers on a writer in an unnamed totalitarian state who is being interrogated about the gruesome content of his short stories and their similarities to a series of child murders. The result is an urgent yet surprisingly hilarious theatrical masterpiece; an unflinching examination of the very nature and purpose of art.

What attracted you to this production?

Deven: The Pillowman by Martin McDonagh was always a bucket list play for me. After seeing the Broadway production in 2005 at the Booth Theatre...I just fell in love with the play and McDonagh's style. I have always gone out of my way wherever I am to see his productions when they come to town. More specific to the style - as a trained comedic actor - The Pillowman introduced me to a whole new level of humor, something I've never tried before. Its a kind of 'uncomfortable' humor. I remember watching Jeff Goldblum onstage during the original production and thinking 'What he's saying is SO incredibly dark and ruthless' but I found myself laughing none the less.

What was your favorite part of this production?

Deven: The cast. This was an all-star cast experience. Every single cast member was an absolute joy to work with. Kirk, who has been a guiding force in my acting life was an incredible listener on stage...and since my character does most of the couldn’t ask for a better partner to be there for you. Paul Terkel played Ariel. I'd never worked with Paul prior to this show but within days we had a genuine rapport with one another. Kyle Kirkpatrick who played Michal, well we never had any scenes together which was a shame, but at the time Kyle was my roommate so I was ok with seeing him a little less.

Aaron: Creative problem solving. Little to no budget and we needed to create an interrogation room, and a jail cell. (Pillowman)

What was the most challenging part of working on this production?

Deven: It was a very gutsy call for the Chain Theatre to pick this production as one of its last plays. I've seen this show done well and I've seen it bomb. So it was incredibly important to make sure we never veered towards the latter. Also, our cast was young. When you read The Pillowman, you're entered into this oblique almost dystopian world where civil liberties are constantly kept in check by this overbearing and sinister government. With this dark setting - you never really picture young faces, at least I never pictured them. Tupolski and Ariel in my head were always rough and jagged- with years of exhausting detective work chipping away at their souls. Keeping my initial perception in mind, it was a challenge to make a young blonde haired guy such as myself believable in this tempest of a character. In my opinion, we were able to piece together an intimate 'in your face' fairy tale that the audience could be a part of.

Aaron: Digital animation of the stories in Pillowman. I had never done animation like this. I'm more familiar with photoshop, and Final Cut.

What was the most unique aspect of this production?

Deven: When we began production on Pillowman, we all knew was that the Chain theatre was going to close. At the time, we couldn't say anything to anyone. We had to keep everything a big secret. We just had to press on and create a production worthy of this great theatre's last few months. After The Pillowman's opening, I remember walking out into the lobby where a few audience members remained. This older gentlemen who I had never met before approached me and congratulated me on this production. I remember seeing this true excitement beaming out of his eyes - he said things like 'I came in here skeptical of this production since I had seen the Broadway production but I was blown away by yours...I can't wait to see what you guys do next year.' And I remember thinking...'this is where my real acting skills are being displayed.'

Aaron: We shot the actors dressed in black and white and I edited the footage to look like a Frank Miller graphic novel for the story of The Writer and the Writer's Brother. Also, the table we used in the interrogation room was not able to exit the stage mid show, so I built a proscenium that could fold down to hide the table and open to reveal a sleeping pad where the brother would later be smothered.

What was it like working with this Company?

Deven: If you take the time and energy to invest in the Chain Theatre, they invest in you. When I first started working with them after they opened, I was just an Im also a writer, producer, props master, and director. They helped nurture skill sets I never knew I had. The see who you are and who you should become and they help the two meet. That in my eyes, is a company to invest in.

Aaron: They do not let lack of funding hinder their ambition, and neither do I.

You can follow this company on Twitter - @chaintheatre

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