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​From left, Danielle Demisay ’12 as Fourth Actress, Patrick M.

Saunders as Anton Ignatyevich Kerzhentsev, Marisa Urgo

’14 as Second Actress, and Kevin Lynch ’13 as Professor

Drzhembirsky are cast members in "Poor Murderer."

(Photo by Claire Chambers ’15)

Production to be Staged Two Weekends

‘Poor Murderer’ Examines Opposites in the Human Existence

View a video overview of Poor Murderer here.

Providence, R.I. — Providence College’s Department of Theatre, Dance, and Film will embrace the opposites of the human experience when it presents the riveting Pavel Kohout production, Poor Murderer, on the weekends of March 30-April 1 and April 13-15.

The department’s final major theatrical production of the academic year, Poor Murderer will be performed in the Angell Blackfriars Theatre of the Smith Center for the Arts. Curtain times are 8:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 2:00 p.m. on Sunday.

Poor Murderer, which premiered on Broadway in 1976, is directed by John P. Garrity ’73, associate professor of theatre arts and managing director of theatre. Guest artists include scenic designer Carl F. Gudenius ’80 and sound design specialist Paul M. Perry, Jr. ’10.

Approximately 50 students are involved in the production, including 13 actors, six on-site performance assistants, and more than two dozen others involved in such roles as creating scenery and costumes, and assisting with lighting and sound work.

Set in 1905 in Russia, the plot centers around the life of Anton Ignatyevich Kerzhentsev, an actor and patient at St. Elizabeth’s Institute for Nervous Disorders, who is in the process of re-creating his life through a play he has written. As the drama unfolds, the principal character struggles to prove that he is not insane and, in order to do so, must try to convince his doctors that he is responsible for a murder.

In the production, Kohout primarily investigates opposites of human existence, including illusion and reality, reason and emotions, self-knowledge and the unconscious, and sanity and madness. Experience, memory, deception, and truth all appear in this multi-layered play that addresses what is real, how much we deceive ourselves, and how much we rely on those around us to support — or destroy — our common experiences. 

To Garrity, it is another example of the department’s effort to portray and offer actors and audience members alike the opportunity to reflect on the different sides of humanity.

“This is a serious play presented in a very theatrical style,” he said. “Whether it’s a comedy or drama, a contemporary or classic play, we strive to expose theatre students and our community to plays of substance that have something worthwhile to offer about the human experience.”

A backdrop to the production is the playwright himself, Kohout. A dissident, he was one of several writers who addressed social issues through their work during the height of communism in the 1960s and 1970s.

Although banned from working in public theatre in Czechoslovakia by the Soviet regime that was occupying the country, Kohout formed a theatre that covertly performed plays in living rooms in his home city of Prague. He later was stripped of his Czech citizenship. 

Reserved-seating tickets for Poor Murderer cost $13 (general admission), $9 (senior citizen and PC faculty/staff), and $5 (students). Tickets may be purchased online or at the Smith Center box office, which is open Monday through Friday from 1:30 to 5:00 p.m. when school is in operation and one hour prior to performances. Tickets also may be purchased from the box office with a credit card by calling 401-865-2218.

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