Killer Joe is the first play written by the Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of August: Osage County, Tracy Letts. The play is a southern gothic black comedy that derives humor from the dirty realism of stereotypical white trash characters that are not only victims of circumstance, but also victims of themselves, enslaved to their own malice and delusions. In this withering rustic outlook on the disenfranchised in America, the Smith family hires Killer Joe to do away with mother for the insurance money. Killer Joe decides to bed the Smith’s young virgin daughter, Dottie, as sexual collateral against his final fee until the insurance policy is paid. Before it’s over nearly everyone is a bloody mess.
SeeNoSun’s Founding Artistic Director Michael Wright originally hoped to stage Killer Joe with DC’s Molotov Theater Group, where he was Co-Artistic Director. Earlier this year, Molotov dissolved the Co-Artistic Director positions in order to be “mindful of the typical resource constraints facing a small theatre company,” according to a news release. Wright’s years in the DC Theater community helped him understand what the Molotov decision really meant.
“I joined Molotov to rebuild what had once been a daring, unapologetic theater company. When the possibility to do that work no longer existed the decision to move on was easy. I’m excited for the future with SeeNoSun,” said Wright.
A film version of Killer Joe directed by William Friedkin (The Exorcist, The French Connection) starred Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey as Killer Joe with a cast that included Emile Hirsch, Gina Gershon and Thomas Haden Church.
The film received an NC-17 Rating in the United States from the MPAA for “graphic disturbing content involving violence and sexuality, and a scene of brutality.”
Killer Joe is rarely produced on stage for the same reason. It is a graphic and disturbing play with sexual content, nudity and violence.
“The play requires a theater company to take a fearless, unflinching approach to the story or it will not work on stage,” said Wright, who is also directing the play. “Molotov’s commitment to expanding fundraising efforts put them in a position to compromise the artistic integrity of Killer Joe and I wasn’t interested in doing that. I think the Washington DC Theater community isn’t interested in seeing a sanitized version of this compelling play. Thankfully now, they will see the play as it is meant to be seen.”
SeeNoSun OnStage, a theatre company dedicated to “The Art of Darkness,” will produce Killer Joe at the DC Arts Center in Adams Morgan – 2438 18th Street, NW, in Washington, DC, June 5th through June 29th (Thursdays – Sundays). Press night for Killer Joe is Sunday, June 8th. Purchase tickets online. EMail [email protected] for reservations.
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