The Beauty Queen of Leenane
By Martin McDonagh
Directed by Jeremy Skidmore
August 21 – September 15, 2013
Round House Theatre Bethesda
“[A] brilliantly subversive black comedy that is being satisfyingly revived by Round House…this Beauty Queen confidently unfolds the story’s gothic underpinnings. It’s a harrowing little horror story packaged as satire, and under director Jeremy Skidmore’s excellent guidance, the production elicits the gasps that McDonagh goes after.” – Washington Post
“A superb staging” – Washingtonian
“[A] formidable new production” – City Paper
“Powerful, well-rounded revival” – DC Theatre Scene
“Top-notch cast” – Washington Blade
“5 stars…thrilling” – DC Metro Theater Arts
“Brilliantly acted” – MD Theatre Guide
“I highly recommend this production.” – Broadway World
Maureen, a lonely spinster in her forties, lives with her diabolically manipulative mother Mag in an isolated cottage in the west of Ireland. Mag whines and bullies to get her way while Maureen resentfully fulfills her mother’s every command. When Maureen is offered a last chance at love, she sees a chance to escape. But Mag has other ideas, setting in motion a chain of deceptions, secrets, and betrayals that are both heartbreaking and hilarious.
With savage irony, this Tony and Drama Desk Award-winning black comedy by acclaimed playwright and filmmaker Martin McDonagh surprises audiences through to its horrifying conclusion.
Approximate running time is 2 hours 15 minutes, including 1 intermission
Sponsored in part through generous support from Bonnie and Alan Hammerschlag
Artwork by Esther Wu
Beauty Queen of Leenane Audience Events
From discussions with directors, designers, and actors to audio-described and sign-interpreted performances, each production features fun and informative audience events. For more info, call 240.644.1100.
Gain an inside look at the show’s costume, set lighting, and sound designs from the professionals who make it happen
Wednesday, August 21, 2013 at 6:45 p.m.
Get up close with director Jeremy Skidmore in this pre-performance talk
Friday, August 23, 2013 at 7:15 p.m.
Stay afterwards for a lively discussion with members of the cast and special guests
August 21 – 25 and then on each Wed, Thu, & Sun during the run
RHT offers designated audio-described and sign-interpreted performances of each Bethesda production. More info about those performances may be found below.
Using the services of Maryland Relay, patrons who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, DeafBlind or Speech Disabled can easily communicate through TTY (text telephone) with the Round House box office about performances in our Bethesda and/or Silver Spring theatres. For more information about using Maryland Relay’s TTY service, visit http://www.mdrelay.org/.
Saturday, August 31, 2013 at 3 p.m.
Reservations for sign interpreting services needed at least 2 weeks prior to the performance.
Saturday, September 14, 2013 at 3 p.m.
Kimberly Gilbert (Maureen Folan) last appeared at Round House in the world premiere of Redshirts, a co-production with Penumbra Theatre in St Paul, Minnesota. Kimberly has worked in the DC Theatreverse for over ten years where she has been fortunate enough to play on the stages of The Kennedy Center, Folger Theatre, Theater J, Source, Metro Stage, and, most frequently, Woolly Mammoth and Taffety Punk, both of which she is a proud company member. Ms. Gilbert will also be seen later in the Round House season in The Lyons directed by John Vreeke. This show goes out to her director and roomie, 13 years in the making.
Sarah Marshall (Mag Folan) last appeared at Round House Theatre in The Book Club Play. Other Round House credits include Camille, The Cherry Orchard, Love and Anger, Criminals in Love, Escape from Happiness, Baby with the Bathwater, Elektra, Antigone, The Madwoman of Chaillot, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and How the Other Half Loves. DC credits include The Rocky Horror Show, The Golden Dragon, Prometheus, Sylvia, Miss Margarida’s Way at Studio Theatre; Taming of The Shrew, As You Like It, and Twelfth Night at Folger Theatre; The Government Inspector, Pericles, and Macbeth at The Shakespeare Theatre Company; Civilization (all you can eat), Dead Man’s Cell Phone, In the Next Room or the vibrator play, The Clean House, Boom, The Dead Monkey, and Wanted at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company; How I Learned to Drive, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Women, You Can’t Take It With You at Arena Stage; Apples from the Dessert, Boged (Traitor): Enemy of the People, and Mikveh at Theater J. Ms. Marshall is an acting instructor at Georgetown University.
Todd Scofield (Pato Dooley) previously appeared at Round House in Double Indemnity and Tabletop. His other work in the DC area include Mister Roberts at The Kennedy Center; Two Gentlemen of Verona, As You Like It, Cymbeline, The Taming of the Shrew, The Imaginary Invalid, Twelfth Night, The Way of the World, Design for Living, Lady Windermere’s Fan, Henry IV Part 1, and Henry IV Part 2 at The Shakespeare Theatre Company; Othello, Cyrano, Henry VIII, Ghost in Hamlet, Caliban in The Tempest, King Lear, Measure for Measure at Folger Theatre; Neville’s Island at Olney Theatre Center; A Christmas Carol at Ford’s Theatre; Bal Masque at Theater J; Winnie-the-Pooh at Adventure Theatre. His other regional work include C.S. Lewis in Freud’s Last Session at Arden Theatre; four seasons at North Carolina Shakespeare Festival, roles include Mercutio, Speed, Tranio, Don Armado, and Dromio; Shenandoah, Hamlet and The Devil’s Dream at Barter Theatre; The Misanthrope at Charlotte Rep; All’s Well that Ends Well at PlayMakers. He appeared on The Wire in a recurring role in Seasons 3 & 5.
Joe Mallon (Ray Dooley) is thrilled to be making his debut at Round House Theatre. DC area credits include A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Wallenstein and Coriolanus at The Shakespeare Theatre Company; and the upcoming Romeo and Juliet at Folger Theatre. Regional credits include Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at New Candlelight Theatre; Little Shop of Horrors at Devon Theater; A Few Good Men at Ritz Theater; Picnic and The Last Night of Ballyhoo at Montgomery Theater; Working and Honk! at Theatre Horizon; The Fantasticks at The Kimmel Center. He received a BFA from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and an MFA from University of South Carolina.
Martin McDonagh (Playwright) is considered one of the most important living Irish playwrights. His first play, The Beauty Queen of Leenane premiered in 1996 in Galawy, Ireland and has since been produced on London’s West End, Off Broadway, and Broadway. Beauty Queen won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play, the Drama League Award for Best Play, and the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Broadway Play, as well as a Tony Award nomination for Best Play. The play is the first installment of his trilogy set in Leenane, a small village on the west coast of Ireland. The other plays in this trilogy are A Skull in Connemara and The Lonesome West (1997 Tony Award nominee for Best Play). His second trilogy, set across a trio of islands that are located off the coast of County Galway, include The Cripple of Inishmaan (1997), The Lieutenant of Inishmore (2003 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Comedy; 2006 Tony Award nominee for Best Play), and The Banshees of Inisheer. McDonagh’s more recent plays include The Pillowman (2004 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Play; 2005 Tony Award nominee for Best Play) and A Behanding in Spokane. He also wrote and directed the films Six Shooter (2006 Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film), In Bruges (2009 BAFTA Film Award for Best Screenplay), and Seven Psychopaths.
Jeremy Skidmore (Director) previously directed Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo and My Name Is Asher Lev for Round House. He has been based in Washington, DC for the last 12 years where he served for two years as President of the Capital Talent Agency, two years as Producer of the Source Festival, and six years as the Artistic Director of Theater Alliance. Jeremy is an Associate Artist with Signature Theatre where he has directed The Lieutenant of Inishmore, Dirty Blonde, and Crave. Other projects in the DC area include Bell for The National Geographic Society, A Few Good Men for Keegan Theatre, Never the Sinner for 1st Stage, New Jerusalem for Theater J (Helen Hayes nomination for Outstanding Production), Angels in America for Forum Theatre (Helen Hayes nomination for Outstanding Direction and Production), The Pavilion for The Hub Theatre, If You Give a Moose a Muffin for Adventure Theatre, Art for Everyman Theatre, Stuff Happens for Olney Theatre Company, The Gingham Dog for African Continuum Theatre, After the Flood for Rorschach Theatre, The Learned Ladies for Catalyst Theatre Company, and Tales From Ovid, Slaughter City, Painted Alice, The Dispute, Mary’s Wedding (Helen Hayes nomination for Outstanding Direction and Production), Gross Indecency, Blue/Orange, and Ambition Facing West for Theater Alliance. Outside of DC, Jeremy has directed, produced or taught in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta, London, Oslo, Galway, Kilimanjaro, Tokyo, Macau, and Tai Pei. Jeremy is a Member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, has a BFA in Directing from the North Carolina School of the Arts, and an MBA from American University.
Tony Cisek (Scenic Designer) With Mr. Skidmore: Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, My Name Is Asher Lev at Round House Theatre and Delaware Theatre Company; Angels In America: Millennium Approaches at Forum Theatre; Crave at Signature Theatre; Ambition Facing West, Painted Alice, Mary’s Wedding, and Slaughter City at Theater Alliance. Also at Round House: Permanent Collection, A Lesson Before Dying, and the premieres of Alice, columbinus, and A Murder, A Mystery, & A Marriage, among others. Off Broadway & Regional: Roundabout, Arena Stage, Guthrie, Goodman, Ford’s, Folger Theatre, South Coast Rep, Milwaukee Rep, Indiana Rep, Portland Center Stage, Cleveland Play House, Cincinnati Playhouse, Intiman, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Berkshire Theatre Festival, Syracuse Stage, Two River Theatre, New York Theatre Workshop, and The Kennedy Center. Awards: four Helen Hayes Awards in Washington, four Drammy Awards in Portland, and a Barrymore Award nomination in Philadelphia. Training: MFA in Design from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. www.tonycisek.com
Frank Labovitz (Costume Designer) is excited to return to Round House where he has previously designed I Love to Eat, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, Next Fall, and Pride and Prejudice. Other design credits include: Miss Saigon, Company, Dreamgirls, and Dying City at Signature Theatre; You for Me for You, Mr. Burns, Gruesome Playground Injuries, and Fever/Dream at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company; The T Party and Mad Forest at Forum Theatre; Dirt at Studio Theatre; Astro Boy and the God of Comics and Mojo at Studio Theatre 2nd Stage; Seussical, Rapunzel, Junie B. in Jingle Bells, Batman Smells, and Callisto 5 at Imagination Stage; Stop Kiss at No Rules Theatre Company; The Religion Thing, Something You Did, and Sholom Aleichem: Laughter through Tears at Theater J. He received his MFA in design from The University of Maryland.
Dan Covey (Lighting Designer) last designed at Round House Theatre for productions directed by Timothy Douglas: Permanent Collection and A Lesson Before Dying, and once before that in the Silver Spring space with columbinus. Recent DC credits include Bell for National Geographic, Framed! for The National Gallery of Art, Necessary Sacrifices at Ford’s Theatre, 1 Henry IV at Folger Theatre, Dirty Blonde for Signature Theatre, The Temperamentals for Rep Stage, Apples from the Desert at Theater J among others. Off-Broadway, Dan designed Beyond Glory (Roundabout Theatre Company), columbinus (New York Theatre Workshop), and Sholom Aleichem: Laughter through Tears (National Yiddish Theatre – Folksbiene). Dan received a Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Lighting Design for Folger Theatre’s production of The Tempest. He also received Portland Oregon’s 2008 Drammy Award for Lighting Design for his work on Sometimes a Great Notion. Please visit dancovey.com for more portfolio photographs, upcoming productions, and much more information.
Eric Shimelonis (Composer/Sound Designer) is thrilled to return to Round House after designing Becky Shaw, How to Write a New Book for the Bible, and Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo. Recent projects include Torch Song Trilogy at Studio Theatre; Our Class and Andy and the Shadows at Theater J; A Man, His Wife, and His Hat at Hub Theatre; Never the Sinner at 1st Stage; the world premiere of the new Sam Shepard play Heartless at Signature Theatre, NYC; Abigail/1702 at City Theatre, Pittsburgh; Broke-ology at Juilliard School; Fuerza Bruta at Daryl Roth Theatre, NYC; and Adam Rapp’s The Hallway Trilogy at Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre, NYC – Drama Desk and Hewes Design Award nominations. Eric is the resident composer of Voice Of The City Ensemble and had a sold-out Carnegie Hall debut with F. Murray Abraham performing his song cycle Elusive Things.
Pamela Weiner (Props Master) is excited to be working on her first production at Round House Theatre. DC area design/prop credits include The Continuing Adventures of John Blade and Super Spy at Live Action Theatre; The Hollow and The Boy Detective Fails at Signature Theatre. Regional credits include You Can’t Take It with You, Fifty Words, and Private Lives at Everyman Theatre; Two Gentlemen of Verona, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Compleat Works of Shakespeare, Abridged at Chesapeake Shakespeare Company. She was the Prop Head on the 2nd national tour of Sweeney Todd and is currently working as an Assistant Prop Shop Manager at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland, College Park.
Joe Isenberg (Fight Choreographer) His work as a Fight Director has been seen at The Washington National Opera, Kennedy Center/Theatre for Young Audiences, Signature Theatre, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Co., Arena Stage, No Rules Theatre Co., Studio Theatre 2nd Stage, Studio Theatre, Theater J, Humana Festival 2011/2012, Florida Stage, and InterAct Theatre Co. He has served as Assistant Fight Director at The Metropolitan Opera, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, and Folger Theatre. He received the Outstanding Swashbuckler Award in 2010 from the Society of American Fight Directors. He was the Kennedy Center/Kenan Fund for the Arts Fight Choreographer in residence from 2010/2011. He recently received the 2012 Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Choreography for his work on The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Co.
Marie Sproul (Assistant Director/Dramaturg) last worked at Round House as the Assistant Director to KJ Sanchez on ReEntry. Other DC area credits include: Assistant Director to Aaron Posner on The Conference of the Birds at Folger Theatre and The Last Five Years at Signature Theatre; Director, Stage Door at The American Century Theatre. Other regional theatre credits include: Assistant Director to Jeremy Cohen on Let There Be Love and to KJ Sanchez on ReEntry at Centerstage; Co-Director of The Decade Plays at Centerstage; Assistant Director to Aaron Posner on The Game’s Afoot at The Cleveland Playhouse; and Assistant Director to KJ Sanchez on ReEntry at The Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts.
Leigh Wilson Smiley (Dialect Coach) has voice/text/dialect directed at regional and international companies including Shakespeare & Company in Massachusetts, Ford’s Theatre, Folger Theatre, Signature Theatre, Pig Iron Theatre, Cirque du Soleil, Round House, and NBC. Leigh created The Visual Accent & Dialect Archive at www.visualaccentdialectarchive.com. She is a Designated Linklater voice teacher; a member of Screen Actors Guild; Actors Equity Association; American Federation of Television, Radio and Screen Artists; the Voice and Speech Trainers Association. Leigh is an Associate Professor and the Director of the School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies at the University of Maryland.
Che Wernsman (Stage Manager) previously stage managed I Love to Eat, A Prayer for Owen Meany, Once on This Island, and The Little Prince at Round House. DC credits include: Twelfth Night, Henry V, The Gaming Table, Othello, Henry VIII, Hamlet: Now I Am Alone, Hamlet, Rachel & Juliet, The Winter’s Tale, 1 Henry IV, As You Like It, and King Lear at Folger Theatre; Mame and Sunday in the Park with George at the Kennedy Center; and Love’s Labor’s Lost and Othello at The Shakespeare Theatre Company. She has also stage managed at Studio Theatre, Everyman Theatre, Rep Stage, Center Stage, Olney Theatre Center, MetroStage, Maryland Shakespeare Festival, Virginia Shakespeare Festival and the Wilma Theater with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Ms. Wernsman has a Bachelor of Science from Virginia Tech and is a member of Actors’ Equity Association and the Stage Managers’ Association.
A Prison of Beauty
By Marie Sproul, Production Dramaturg for The Beauty Queen of Leenane
“…Ireland exists on the edge of eternity. The farther the path leads from the fertile east to the barren west, the deeper are the traces of the past etched into the land, for nowhere else in Europe does a people live so enveloped in the past. Timelessness, roots reaching into all its yesterdays…” ‑ Peter Schunemann
This is the world of The Beauty Queen of Leenane, set against the backdrop of the rugged western mountains and fallow potato fields that are constant reminders of a devastating time, isolated from the rest of the world in a town that has barely changed in 200 years. Members of an entire younger generation seem stuck in a timeless past that could just as easily be set in the 1880s as in the 1980s, when our play takes place.
High atop a very steep hill, further isolated from the rest of the villagers in Leenane, we find Maureen and Mag in the struggle to eke out a meaningful life. Maureen tends to her mother day in and day out. Every day they have only each other and the occasional neighbor to chat with. She is surrounded by the same four walls in a tiny town that time forgot.
When most of us think of Ireland, we tend to think of the rolling green hills and the lush vegetation, which is primarily the geography of the south and east. The small village of Leenane is situated at the head of Killary Harbour in County Galway and is described as the ‘Gateway to Connemara’. Killary Harbour is surrounded by imposing mountains that rise steeply into the sky. As depicted in our display in the lobby, the vistas are stunningly beautiful and quite breathtaking, at least for the visitor. The very beauty that attracts tourists to the area creates something of a prison for the locals. According to one Irish blogger: “Ireland is a lovely place, full of friendly locals, cozy pubs and beautiful scenery. This is quite simply nonsense. While some parts of the country look nice, none of those parts have things like jobs or amenities. I live in Cork, which, I’m told, is really fun for a weekend. I’m not here for a weekend. I’m bloody stuck here.”
Most of the towns and villages in the West are sparsely populated. The main reason for this was the potato famine from 1845-1850. During that period, 50,000 people per year died in County Galway alone. People fared much better in the south and east of Ireland in places like Dublin, with a relatively fewer 10,000 deaths per year. The deaths caused by the potato famine and the subsequent widespread emigration resulted in a severe drop in population, from 8 million in 1841 to 2.5 million by 1926. In villages like Leenane, entire families were wiped out or left the area for good. Also, in the 1800s, 60 percent of Ireland’s population lived in rural, outlying areas, but by the 1900s, that number dropped below 42 percent.
Because of this urban flight, there are few jobs to be had in the west of Ireland. To this day, most of the people who live there are sheep farmers or fishermen toiling in the same manner as their ancestors before them. Leenane has not ever experienced the kind of industrial boom that has been enjoyed by Dublin, Galway or Cork. Many people from this area emigrate to England and America to find work. Martin McDonagh’s own parents emigrated from a small town in Connemara to England for this very reason. They also returned to their small town for summers and for good when they retired.
As Pato laments in the play: “And when I’m over there in London and working in rain and it’s more or less cattle I am….It’s here I wish I was, of course. …But when it’s here I am…it isn’t there I want to be, of course not. But I know it isn’t here I want to be either.”
Maybe it’s the knowledge that something more exists beyond the rugged mountains, thatched roofs, and winding roads that makes it seem so claustrophobic. Knowing that in other parts of Ireland and the world, most people have cable TV, telephones, computers, many different choices for dining, schooling, friendships, and love. For the villagers of Leenane, it seems as if the only choice to be made is to leave or stay as they are.
From the Producing Artistic Director
By Ryan Rilette
Martin McDonagh is considered one of the greatest living playwrights, and many of his best known plays, like The Beauty Queen of Leenane, are now being revived the world over as modern classics. So it’s hard to believe that he’s just 43, and that it was only 15 years ago that American audiences first encountered his writing with premieres of The Cripple of Inishmaan at the Public and Beauty Queen at the Atlantic Theatre in early 1998.
I had the pleasure of auditioning for the premiere of Beauty Queen at the Atlantic – my first big New York audition after finishing graduate school – and though my audition was horrible because I was so nervous, I distinctly remember the thrill I got from reading and preparing the script. It was unlike anything I had ever worked on: a mixture of savagery and lyricism that was bleak and dark while also incredibly funny. I was immediately hooked.
I’ve wanted to work on Beauty Queen ever since that audition, so I’m thrilled to produce it now as the first show of the first full season I’ve picked for Round House. We have an incredible team for this revival, led by director Jeremy Skidmore, whose phenomenal production of Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo kicked off last season with a bang. Jeremy has a knack for digging up the roots of a play and examining what lies beneath, and he’s assembled an extraordinary cast to help him with the task for this one: Sarah Marshall, Kimberly Gilbert, Todd Scofield, and Joe Mallon.
You’re going to see Todd and Kimberly again later this season – Todd is part of my cast for This and Kimberly makes up part of the family of The Lyons. I believe strongly that the best work comes from ensembles of artists who work together consistently, who develop a shorthand with each other, and who trust each other enough to push each other to do the most honest work possible. As such, we have committed at Round House to building an ensemble of the very best local artists. This year, Kimberly and Todd join a team of local artists who are all doing multiple shows in our season, including actor Will Gartshore; designers Tony Cisek, Jim Kronzer, Misha Kachman, Eric Shimelonis, Matt Nielson, Frank Labovitz, Ivania Stack, Dan Wagner, Dan Covey, and Andrea Moore; and stage managers Bekah Wachenfeld and Kate Kolarik.
We have also committed to continuing the conversation with you, our audience, after the show. Last year, we offered talkbacks after almost every preview. This year, we’re expanding that even more, offering talkbacks after every preview, and on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays throughout the run. We hope you’ll join us for these lively discussions.
Welcome to the 2013/14 season! We hope to see you often.