By Sabina Mollot
Peter Cooper Village resident Kathleen Butler, a co-founder of a theater production company called Triumvirate Artists, will be directing a limited run of “Pound,” a new play starring Christopher Lloyd.
The play, by Sean O’Leary, focuses on the American poet Ezra Pound, who made propaganda radio posts for Mussolini during World War II and was eventually charged with treason. Found to be too mentally unfit to stand trial, Pound then spent 13 years at the St. Elizabeth’s psychiatric hospital in a ward for the criminally insane.
The play imagines what his final two months there would have been like when Pound, who had basically ruled the institution where he had been given many privileges, suddenly finds himself in despair and in isolation. He then undergoes some very extreme forms of “treatment” at the hands of Mary Polley, a young psychiatrist. Polley’s methods involve inflicting extreme guilt on Pound, by then 73 years old, for his actions.
“One of the things that comes up often at the heart of this play is that words can make a difference,” said Butler. “Words can kill. Words can have dire consequences, even when you don’t realize it.”