Martin McDonagh's Dark Comedy 'The Cripple of Inishmaan' Arrives at UH

There’s not much to do on the Irish island of Inishmaan. To pass the time, some folks stare at cows, talk to stones or await the daily dose of gossip at the general store. When a Hollywood film crew begins shooting a movie nearby, the Inishmaan islanders finally have a diversion from their everyday lives. For resident “Cripple” Billy Claven, however, a role in the film offers an opportunity to escape Inishmaan and rise above his disability.

Houston audiences can find out what happens to Billy during the University of Houston School of Theatre & Dance’s production of Martin McDonagh’s “The Cripple of Inishmaan.” Directed by Steve Wallace, the comic play runs April 20 - 29 at the Jose Quintero Theatre (inside UH’s Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts – Entrance 16 off Cullen Boulevard). Tickets are $20, $15 (for UH faculty, staff and alumni) and $10 (for student and seniors). For ticket details and purchases, call 713-743-2929 or visit Show times and dates are as follows:

  • 8 p.m., April 20 – 21 and April 24 – 28
  • 2 p.m., April 22, 29

“McDonagh takes life’s mundane moments and makes them funny and accessible for audiences,” said Wallace, director of UH’s School of Theatre & Dance. “We all understand why someone would want to be in a movie, but McDonagh shows the other side of the coin. Is 15 minutes of fame really what Billy wants? And will leaving Inishmaan really help him?”

The play was inspired by the filming of 1934 documentary “Man of Aran” off the western coast of Ireland. The film was noted for director Robert J. Flaherty’s creative liberties in documenting the islanders’ lives, as well as its imagery of the coastal landscapes.

“McDonagh used to visit these islands as a child and was fascinated by them and the people who lived there,” Wallace said. “They were much different than people in other areas of Ireland. There was an isolationism to the islands. There were no cars, and the only way to get there was by small boat.”

“The Cripple of Inishmaan” premiered in 1996 at London’s Royal National Theatre. It is the first play in McDonagh’s Aran Islands trilogy, which also includes “The Lieutenant of Inshore” and “The Banshees of Inisheer” (yet to be produced).

 The UH School of Theatre and Dance produces professional plays, dance concerts, studio productions, a new play festival, and school shows through the Theatre for Young Audiences program. The school performs in the Wortham Theatre and the Quintero Theatre. The Houston Shakespeare Festival is a professional project of the school, which is produced each summer at Miller Outdoor Theatre. The UH School of Theatre & Dance offers bachelor’s and master's degrees in theater and teacher certifications in dance and theatre. Its graduate program consists of a master of arts in theatre and master of fine arts in theatre with specializations in acting, directing and design. Faculty includes Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Edward Albee, Tony Award-winning playwright Mark Medoff, Tony Award-winning producer Stuart Ostrow and Tony-nominated designer Kevin Rigdon. Among the greats who have taught at the school in previous years are Lanford Wilson, Sir Peter Hall and Jose Quintero. For details on UH's School of Theatre & Dance, visit