Filmed live at the Geffen Playhouse and starring Rainn Wilson ("The Office"), Thom Pain is a darkly funny monologue from Pulitzer Prize nominee and prolific playwright Will Eno. Thom is just like you, except worse, and BroadwayHD sat down with Eno to find out exactly what that means.
Thom Pain will be available on BroadwayHD on January 11.
Where did the inspiration for Thom Pain come from?
It’s always a mix of things and people. But in this case, the inspiration to write something was the force of the feelings and thoughts I was having at the time. The inspiration to write Thom Pain specifically was my interest and belief in the form of the monologue, and, at the same time, my frustration with certain one-person plays and how lifeless and static they often seemed to be, how unwilling they seemed to participate in the incredible energy of an assembled bunch of bodies in the dark.
Did you have anyone specific in mind when you wrote the character?
Thom Pain is not a secret portrait of a person I know, but, as the years have gone by I am surprised by how familiar and understandable, at least to me, most of what he says remains. I’ve also been surprised and gladdened over the years by the wide variety of people who felt some sense of recognition.
Who is Thom Pain? What kind of people would most relate to him?
I have described Thom Pain as “just like you, except worse.” By that, I mean to say that I think he has a lot of the attributes and qualities we all have, but he sometimes takes them to an extreme. Or perhaps he’s missing some of those other qualities that might otherwise temper the extremity of his feelings. I hope he’s recognizable to a lot of people, and I hope he’s helpful, too. Recognizable, in terms of the thoughts or feelings he has, and helpful, in the way he might overreact or show that an extreme response, a wholly fearful response, might not always be the best one.
What inspired you and Oliver (Butler, the director) to film the show?
That it usually disappears without a trace is one of the great beauties of a play. Since we can’t all make it to Westwood or Montevideo or 17th century London, I think it’s great when a recording can be made of a play. Thom Pain is a film in its own right. And the film captures some sense of that specialness, that mortality, that underlies a play. The “theatre-ness” of things is not just an aspect that is being documented but is also a theme of the film. And I do hope that it will be meaningful in the years ahead. I hope Thom Pain will be seen as an accurate and lively portrayal of a specific consciousness at a specific time, responding to those old questions that thousands of years of trying haven’t yet fully answered.
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