Teacher Guide

The Pillowman Lesson Plan

Introduction to The Pillowman

The Pillowman is a play by Martin McDonagh first produced in the early 2000s. It follows Katurian, a dedicated but unsuccessful writer of macabre tales, through his arrest by Tupolski and Ariel, police detectives of an unnamed "totalitarian state." We soon learn that someone has committed terrible acts of violence against children that seem to be inspired by Katurian's stories, and that the perpetrator was likely Katurian's brain-damaged brother, Michal. As we learn how Michal became brain-damaged—via torture by his parents, explicitly intended to inspire Katurian's writing as a child—the play ultimately leads us to ask questions of inspiration, guilt and innocence, violence begetting...

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