Thursday, August 15, 2013

From the Director's Chair | The Lieutenant of Inishmore

Big Idea Theatre's Artistic Director and the director of The Lieutenant of Inishmore, Brian Harrower, shares his thoughts on this amazing, 5-star production!

I think I was drawn to the contradiction that lies at the heart of The Lieutenant of Inishmore.  It’s a comedy… about violence.  It’s not a violent comedy, and the violence in the play certainly isn’t comedic.  Violence is the very core of the humor.  It must be that born and bred sense of Irish ironic fatalism that McDonagh has that enables him to hold this warped mirror up to our faces, and force us to laugh at the absurdity of violence in the modern day, at our own placid acceptance of it.  It’s hard for me to argue that our culture hasn’t become desensitized.  McDonagh’s solution to that problem is brilliant in my mind.  He doesn’t try to shock us viscerally.  Instead, he aims for our funny bones, and hits, and hits, and hits.

This show is about an Irish freedom fighter who is contemplating forming a splinter group, off of a splinter group from the IRA (who wouldn’t allow him to join due to anger management issues).  His only friend in the world, his childhood cat Wee Thomas, has died under mysterious circumstances and he is going home to beat, maim and kill his way to the truth about what happened. 

There was a great challenge to finding a balance between the ludicrous and the grounded in this piece that was a joy to tackle. Keeping the cast firmly invested in the world of the play, and not allowing them or myself too much outside awareness was important.  Also, far crazier things: How much blood is too much when it hits a wall?  How much is too little?  How much blood can you pour on the stage before actors start slipping and falling all over each other.  Should a cat scream when it gets shot?  I now have answers to all of these questions.

I found an Irish toast that’s given prominently on New Years.  “Go mbeire muid beo ar an am seo arĂ­s.” It translates to “May we be alive at this time next year.”  There is something joyfully morbid about that which sums up so brilliantly my feelings for, and my approach to this show.  No production has ever kept me up later at night.  No production has ever woken me up so early every morning, unable to go back to sleep for thinking about it.  No production has ever had me more hopeless four days before opening.  But this process has been an absolute joy and I could not be prouder of the end result.  Bottoms up!

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