Playwright Marina Carr explores matters of life and death in ‘Woman and Scarecrow’

Karen Baum, Nike Doukas in Woman and Scarecrow by Marina Carr. Photo by Connor MulvaneyBy Sharon Eberson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Fresh off the heels of producing Samuel Beckett’s modern masterpiece Waiting For Godot, PICT Classic Theatre is back with the premiere of a compelling play by award-winning contemporary Irish playwright Marina Carr. Bridging bittersweet humor and comical tragedy like many classic Irish plays that have come before it, Carr’s Woman and Scarecrow examines the life of a universal character named Woman: a mother of eight children, a wife of a philandering husband and a human being facing death.

Exploring the depths of the human condition with a mix of emotions, the play chronicles the central female character’s frank dialogue with her companion, Scarecrow, whom only she can see. As Woman tries to confront and make sense of her approaching death, she considers “all that might have been and all that will go on without her.” Theater-goers will be drawn into Carr’s mesmerizing tale, as a seemingly benign wardrobe takes on a menacing role, and as Scarecrow struggles with “what lurks inside to buy Woman just a little more time.”

PICT’s artistic and executive director, Alan Stanford, directs this third play in the local company’s 2014 season, which he selected “because of its delicate investigation of the one event in our lives that we all share. The leaving of it.”

Playing the role of the mysterious Scarecrow is Pittsburgh-based theatre artist, Karen Baum, who is a featured actor for PICT’s 2014 season. Last season at PICT, Baum played Woman 4/Nurse 1/Young Girl in the Pittsburgh premiere of Don Juan Comes Back from the War, and she was most recently seen portraying Poppy in Pittsburgh Public Theater’s Noises Off. The play also stars Nike Doukas as Woman, Sharon Brady as Auntie Ah and James FitzGerald as Him. The artistic team features Gianni Downs (scenic), Lindsay Tejan (costume), Joe Pino (sound) and Keith Truax (lighting).

In conjunction with the play’s debut in Pittsburgh, Carr—who penned the play in 2006—will be in town from July 7th through July 14th. In addition to working with Stanford and the cast during the final week of rehearsals, Carr will also be recognized at a dinner taking place on July 9th at the Pittsburgh Athletic Association in Oakland. Limited seats are still available and may be purchased online. Carr will also attend the play’s opening night on July 12th, which features a post-show reception. Don’t miss the chance to hear more about the play and Carr’s creative practice during a special Talkback event with the cast and director following the July 13th performance. On July 13th at 7 p.m., Carr will conduct a free reading at The Henry Heymann Theatre, which will include selections from her previous plays Marble, By the Bog of Cats, The Cordelia Dream and 16 Possible Glimpses.

Born in 1964, Marina Carr received the 1996 Susan Blackburn Smith Prize for her play, Portia Coughlin, which PICT produced in 2001 for its Pittsburgh premiere. An annual award, the prize recognizes women who have written works of outstanding quality for the English-speaking theatre. Carr is also the recipient of an E. M. Forster award, which provides a $20,000 prize for a young English writer to work in the US. She is a member of Aosdana, and has been Writer-in-Residence at the Abbey Theatre and Trinity College, Heimbold Professor at Villanova University and the 1932 Fellow at Princeton.

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