By Shelby Knight
LOGOS STAFF WRITER
The University of the Incarnate Word’s Theater Department is opening what it bills as a riveting and dramatic production of “The Beauty Queen of Leenane” to the stage Feb. 20.
The play by award-winning playwright Martin McDonagh is set in the rocky hills of Western Ireland. It showcases the struggle between daughter Maureen, played by senior theatre arts major Caity Roberts, and her sickly mother Mag, played by a special guest, screen actress Laura Poe.
Throughout the play, the audience will experience the highs and lows of this mother-
daughter relationship. They’ll watch Maureen’s loyalties to her mother – who is almost totally dependent on her daughter — conflict with Maureen’s inner desire to be free and truly live her life.
The on-stage chemistry and dynamics of Poe and Roberts present raw emotions and blunt content to the audience. Their work is under the direction of Dr. Robert Ball, an associate professor of theatre arts and chair of the department. Other production team members include Rick Malone on sound, Margaret Mitchell on scenery, and Melissa Gaspar on lighting.
Poe’s face may be recognizable from her work with such Hollywood actors as Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon. She’s also worked on numerous series such as “Law and Order,” “Nurse Jackie” and Netflix’s “House of Cards.”
Poe said her role in “The Beauty Queen of Leenane” is challenging.
“ ‘Mag’ is a great character to sink your teeth into (in more ways than one!),” Poe said. “There’s a lot going on behind those shifty eyes of hers.”
As for working with Ball, Poe said, “It’s been especially great to get to work with Robert again on this piece because he is a master at pulling out the quiet nuances that actors love to play. We’re lucky to get to work with such a fantastic script. It’s Irish, so there are a lot of words that can have a lot of layers. I’m also thoroughly enjoying the students at UIW — they’re curious, diligent and a whole lot of fun.”
Roberts said she also is excited about the role she is playing.
“It’s been an amazing experience working with Laura Poe and Robert,” Roberts said. “They both know so much. This is probably the hardest show I’ve ever done in so many ways. The theme, dialect, and lines all make it so complex but so rich. I discover something new about Maureen every rehearsal and that’s so exciting. I can’t wait for opening to show everyone what we’ve built.”