(O'Toole's article appeared in Bomb magazine, Spring 1998.)
Martin McDonagh, born in London of Irish parents, is one of the most startling and prolific contemporary playwrights. At 27, he has had four new plays open in Ireland and England in the last two years. His Leenane Trilogy—The Beauty Queen of Leenane, A Skull in Connemara and The Lonesome West—was staged together by the Druid Theatre of Galway, and at the Royal Court in London. The first play of another trilogy, The Cripple of Inishmaan, was produced by the British National Theater. One play from each trilogy—The Beauty Queen and The Cripple—is being produced in New York this spring at The Public Theater and the Atlantic Theater. Though McDonagh grew up in London, all of these plays are set in the west of Ireland and are written in an Irish idiom. The combination of a pastiche of rural Irish forms and a displaced urban sensibility gives his work a dark, violent, and very funny edge. This interview was done in February in a coffee shop in Manhattan. He had just returned from a trip to Australia, where the Druid production of the Leenane Trilogy had been on tour.
Fintan O’Toole You tend to avoid interviews. Do they make you uncomfortable?
Martin McDonagh It’s kind of scary to analyze my plays like this now, because I didn’t do it before I started writing. The whole premise of interviews frightens me. I’ve said that to you before, I didn’t do self-analysis before I started writing, I’m not doing it much now. I’m doing it more than I should, even though I don’t want to. And not because I choose to, but because this whole process of having to publicize something forces you into these kinds of situations. I’m never unhappy doing them. I’m not unhappy doing this, I’m just tired. You have to either not do it, or stop whinging about it. I’m not whinging about it now. (laughter) But the whole self-analysis, for me, goes against the grain of everything I want to do. I never thought about any of this stuff before I wrote the plays, and I think they’re quite good plays. I think just going on like that is the best way to achieve that process again, to go on without over analyzing.
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