IU Theatre opens the Bicentennial 2019–2020 season with Marina Carr’s By The Bog of Cats. Loosely based on Euripides' tragedy Medea, this provocative drama discloses one woman's courageous attempts to lay claim to that which is hers. Set on the ghostly landscape of the Bog of Cats, Carr’s play is a furious, uncompromising tale of greed and betrayal, of memory and profound self-sacrifice.
This production is part of IU’s Themester 2019 program Remembering & Forgetting. In the play, Hester Swane, an Irish Traveller, attempts to come to terms with a lifetime of abandonment in a world where all whom she has loved have left her. Memory is tied so deeply to place, and in Carr’s play, that place is the Bog of Cats. Carr’s vision of the Bog of Cats, a bitter stretch of the Irish midlands, is of a sunken and frozen place, stalked by ghosts, memories, and prescient characters steeped in myth. “Place is so saturated with memory,” Carr said in an interview with the Irish Times, “landscape by itself can be very powerful, but I think people tend to associate landscape with the ones we love….” In her Chicago Tribune review of The Artistic Home’s 2017 production, Kerry Reid describes Carr’s play as “…shot through with rich unexpected veins of humor as well as sorrow and anger.”
Marina Carr is a prolific and award-winning Irish playwright. Her play The Mai won the Dublin Theatre Festival Best New Irish Play award in 1995 and her 1997 play Portia Coughlan won the nineteenth Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. In 2017, Carr was named the recipient of the Windham-Campbell Prize, administered by the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale University. She is the second Irish author to receive the prize.
Ansley Valentine, Associate Professor and Head of Acting and Directing, directs the production. Joining Professor Valentine on the creative team are IU alum Kristen Martino (Scenic Design), M.F.A. students Erin Barnett (Costume Design) and Megan Branham (Lighting Design), and undergraduate Macy Kloville (Sound Design). The cast of By The Bog of Cats includes M.F.A. actors Ellise Chase, Christopher Crider-Plonka and Glynnis Kunkel-Ruiz. Ellise’s role as Hester Swane is in partial fulfillment of Ellise’s MFA thesis.