Will Eno Brings “Thom Pain,” Starring Rainn Wilson, to BroadwayHD

The playwright discusses collaborating with Wilson, his former roommate, adapting his Pulitzer-nominated play to film, and some surprising encounters with London's wildlife.

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Will Eno
Rainn Wilson in the Geffen Playhouse's Thom Pain, now streamable on BroadwayHD. Photo: Jeff Lorch Photography

Today on The Scene my guest is playwright Will Eno. Will Eno’s plays include The Flu Season, Middletown, Title and Deed, Gnit, The Realistic Joneses, The Open House and Wakey, Wakey, among others, and his 2004 one-actor play Thom Pain (based on nothing). The Realistic Joneses ran on Broadway in 2014, and that year the ensembles of that play and The Open House won a Drama Desk Award Special Award for “two extraordinary casts and one impressively inventive playwright.” Among his many awards are a Guggenheim Fellowship, a 2012 PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award, the 2014 Obie Award for Playwriting and the 2014 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Play, for The Open House. Thom Pain was nominated for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize and has also been translated into more than a dozen languages.

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A production of Thom Pain, starring Rainn Wilson, was remounted and recorded at the Geffen Playhouse in 2016. The film of that play is now available for streaming on BroadwayHD. A sad, funny and deeply thought-provoking monologue, Thom Pain unfolds as a series of reflections on life with what Wilson describes as “effortless waterfalls of language and a really cutting sense of humor.” As readers know I’ve been a big advocate

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Playwright Will Eno

for theater streaming both in my writing here at the CFR and elsewhere, and I was excited to see BroadwayHD embracing more work from outside the New York area. I highly recommend it as a tremendous example of how well live theater can be adapted to film.

In my conversation with Will Eno today, I ask him how his relationship with this play has changed over years and how he might approach the play’s existential questions today now more than a decade after its original production. We discuss how he came to collaborate again with his former roommate Wilson, and he also reflects on some of life’s great human themes like loneliness, family and the passage of time.

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