In the Loop
Student Stories : Sep 24, 2014

Behind the Scenes: Actors discuss The Cripple of Inishmaan

By Elizabeth Boone

Calin Wilson traveled from New York City to Boynton Beach to Gainesville to begin the School of Theatre + Dance's rehearsals for The Cripple of Inishmaan by Martin McDonagh.

Even if it meant all in three days.

“It’s been a pretty wild ride,” said Wilson.

The 22-year-old political science and theatre senior is playing the title role in the production he has been working on for five weeks.

The demanding role comes to Wilson after just completing a different challenging position: He spent the summer interning with the Lincoln Center Festival. 

But after arriving in Gainesville, Wilson said Dr. David Young, the show’s director, had the cast hit the ground running. They went straight into rehearsals, always using an Irish accent to gain more experience with it. Tiza Garland, School of Theatre + Dance associate professor, also worked with the cast to help them perfect the accent. 

“It was important for us to have the same dialect as a cast,” Wilson said.

But Wilson wasn’t completely unfamiliar with the accent. While interning in New York, Wilson had the privilege to see the Broadway production of The Cripple of Inishmaan starring Daniel Radcliffe. Wilson said it was great to use it as a reference for his performance and to have a chance to hear the script.

And the script is very specific. While the show deals with numerous dark elements, it is a comedy, and this is what drew the director toward it.

The Irish form of humor is something that we don’t see enough of on stage today,” Young said. “I know that our students love to laugh, and I thought this would be a great choice.”

The Cripple of Inishmaan is about a crippled boy in the 1930s who dreams of escaping his remote town on the Irish coast and the pettiness of townsfolk like his eccentric aunts and the village gossip. His opportunity materializes when a film crew arrives, and soon Billy has visions of himself in Hollywood pursuing the American Dream.

Wilson said he loves the cultural aspect of the show and the fact that it is has an ensemble cast, meaning each character has equal importance.  

Wilson said he has a lot of fun with the cast, and so does 20-year-old theatre junior Zoe Vlahos, who plays the island’s 90-year-old alcoholic matriarch.

“It takes an island to pull a show together,” Vlahos said. “And it’s been a pleasure working with this cast.”

For Wilson, this was not the first time he’s worked in a show under Young’s direction. In last year’s production of Tribes he also happened to play a boy named Billy living with a handicap.

“It’s definitely a funny coincidence, and I take it as a compliment,” Wilson said. “I’m grateful he trusts me to take on challenging roles.”

Wilson hopes the audience will have as much fun as he’s had throughout the production process.

“I’m grateful to go out with such a great show.”

The School of Theatre + Dance’s production of The Cripple of Inishmaan runs Sept. 26-28 and Sept. 30-Oct. 5 in the Black Box Theatre at the Nadine M. McGuire Theatre and Dance Pavilion. Tickets are $13-$17 and are available through the University Box Officelocated at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center, by calling352-392-1653 or at