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Virginia Tech Department of Theatre Arts 2008-09 season opens with A Skull in Connemara


BLACKSBURG, Va., Sept. 19, 2008 – Virginia Tech Department of Theatre Arts presents Martin McDonagh's A Skull in Connemara directed by Gregory Justice with performances Oct. 2 through 5, at 7:30 p.m., Oct. 5 at 2 p.m., Oct. 7 through 9 and Oct. 13 through 18 at 7:30 p.m. in the Squires Studio Theatre.

Playwright McDonagh's play, which is a dark comedy, is set in the small Irish village of Leenane, County Galway, on Ireland's West Coast. The play opens with gravedigger, Mick Dowd and local gossip, Maryjohnny Rafferty, sharing some poteen in Dowd's cottage. Seven years ago Mick spent time in prison after the death of his wife Oona caused by his drunk driving. Throughout the village Mick is hotly suspected of killing his wife by cracking her skull with a hammer and then making it look like a car accident. Every year, by the light of the moon, gravedigger Mick must become 'gravediggerupper' and disinter all the seven-year-old corpses and smash all skulls to bits in order to make room for new ones. McDonagh's dark comedy utilizes incredible twists, colorful, offbeat, and interesting characters (both in an attractive and sometimes scary way, making for an unpredictable evening of wild theatrical delight.

The acting company includes Elizabeth McCommon (who plays Maryjohnny Rafferty), a Blacksburg resident who has worked professionally throughout the Southeast for many years. McCommon has appeared in several Virginia Tech theatre productions, including Tennessee by Romulus Linney in 1984, and as Hecuba in Euripides' The Trojan Women in 1999. Additional guest artist Todd Guill (playing Mick Dowd) is a 1996 theatre arts graduate of Virginia Tech. Guill was last seen at Virginia Tech's 1996 production of True West by Sam Shepard. Since graduating from Virginia Tech, Guill moved to Chicago where he has done considerable work with Second City, and other Chicago theatres. The cast is rounded out with two very talented Virginia Tech theatre arts majors, Will Quin and Adam Ressa.

Justice, Virginia Tech faculty and coordinator of the undergraduate theater arts program, is the director of this comedy. Justice began teaching at Virginia Tech in 1983 and has directed over 30 productions, including the Irish playwrights Beckett, Friel, and O'Casey. A Skull in Connemara is both a Virginia Tech and a Southwest Virginia theater premier for playwright McDonagh. Justice says he couldn't be more thrilled: "This play is wildly, funny and dark, dark, dark. I am in my element as a director and could not be happier!"

Tickets for A Skull in Connemara are $9 general, $7 senior/student, and are available in advance through University Unions and Student Activities at the Squires Student Center Box Office, via phone at (540) 231-5615, and at the door one hour prior to performance time.

The Squires Studio Theatre is located in the Squires Student Center on College Avenue adjacent to downtown Blacksburg. Convenient, free parking is available in nearby Squires and Shultz Hall parking lots.