In October the Yuba College Theater will perform The Cripple of Inishmaan by Martin McDonagh. The play is set in Inishmore, which is part of the Islands of Aran off the Irish Coast. It examines the poverty of the 1930’s through the life of young Cripple Billy. While the movie romanticizes poverty, The Cripple of Inishmaan addresses the tedium of island life and the desire to escape with honesty and humor.
The playwright, Martin McDonagh, has been quite successful since he started in 1996. He has written two Irish trilogies along with two non-Irish plays for a total of eight plays. All but one play has been produced. The Banshees of Inisheer, the conclusion for the trilogy that is started with The Cripple of Inishmaan, remains unpublished because, as he told Fintan O’Toole in BOMB Magazine, “it isn’t as good as the others.” Since then his latest play, A Behanding in Spokane, was performed on Broadway starring Christopher Walken.
Though McDonagh was raised in London by his Irish immigrant parents, he spent his summers visiting County Galway, a county in Ireland, which would explain why most of his plays are set in Ireland. At 27, he became the first playwright since Shakespeare to have four plays running simultaneously in London’s West End, including The Beauty Queen of Leenane which eventually won a Tony award for best play. Unaccustomed to the attention, he gained some notoriety by getting drunk and cursing at Sean Connery when being honored with the Charles Wintour Award for Most Promising Playwright at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards ceremony in London that was held at the Savoy Hotel.
In spite of his success in theater, his real passion lies in film. His first film, a short called Six Shooter, won an Academy Award. In 2008 his first full length movie, In Bruges, opened at the Sundance Film Festival starring Colin Farrell, Ralph Fiennes and Brendan Gleeson. It won best screenplay from the Screenwriters Guild and was nominated in 2009 for an Oscar.
The Cripple of Inishmaan opens Friday, October 7 at 8pm in The Yuba College Theater. Tickets are $8 for general admission and $6 for students and seniors.
Note: This article appears in the Fall 2011 print edition of the Prospector.