Online only: Student-led “The Pillowman” to premiere Feb. 21

UVa-Wise’s student-directed production “The Pillowman” boasts gratuitous violence in various forms in its run from Feb. 21 to Feb. 24 in the Gilliam Center for the Arts.

Forrest Duncan, the director of the play and a junior theater and English major, said the play will include pyrotechnics, a nine foot tall prison set and barbed wire hanging from the ceiling, as well as depictions of smothering, shooting, police brutality, choking and crucifixion.

Holding a student-produced play in the fall is unique for the theater department; they are typically only featured during the spring theater festival. The cast seems comfortable with the change, however.

“It’s a lot of fun and more relaxed,” said freshman Chelsea Spencer.

Stage manager and sophomore Anthony Dean said he shares those sentiments.

“It’s pretty entertaining,” he said, noting that students get to be more involved with the play’s design than they would for an ordinary class.

The play opens when the character Katurian, a writer in a police state, is brought in for questioning after the child murders depicted in his short stories start occurring in real life.

“[“The Pillowman”] is pretty twisted, [but] also hilarious,” said freshman Robert Torres, who plays Katurian.

Senior biology major Bernard Manatu plays Katurian’s mentally-challenged brother, who is sent to prison as the result of some alleged child murders.

Manatu, a veteran of Wise’s theater productions, said “The Pillowman” has depth to it.

“It has very dark humor, but with interesting character development, especially at the end,” he said.

Duncan said his production will ask its audience tough questions like, “What are the limits of art?” and “How far can our individual freedoms be pushed?”

He said he’s confident in the play’s potential as an in-your-face production

“I think that everyone should come out to see it,” Duncan said.

Sophomore theater and administration of justice major Chey Fender, who plays Tupolskia, a detective, said she hopes students give the play a chance.

“This is a very fantastically horrifying play that everyone should see,” Fender said. “It’s a real horror show.”

Megan Gray

Junior biology major Megan Gray serves as editor-in-chief for The Highland Cavalier for the 2014 spring semester. She previously served as news/features editor and as a staff writer.

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