The Playgoer: Murder of a Director

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Murder of a Director

Sad, alarming news about Uzbek/former Soviet director Mark Weil A glimpse of various dangers theatre makers face around the world...

The stabbing death of Mark Weil, a prominent theater director in Uzbekistan, is stirring up grief and shock in Seattle, where he lived part of the time.

Weil, who founded the innovative Ilkhom Theatre more than 30 years ago, was attacked in front of his apartment building in the capital, Tashkent, late Thursday night, spokeswoman Oksana Khrupun said.

Weil, 55, died on the operating table at a hospital.

His last words were unintentionally theatrical. He reportedly said, "I'm opening the season tomorrow, whatever happens," Khrupun said.

The show did go on. The company performed Aeschylus' "The Oresteia" in Weil's honor Friday.

Ilkhom, which Weil founded in 1976, was the first independent theater in the former Soviet Union. Long before perestroika in the late 1980s, Ilkhom gained popularity but also faced censorship and criticism for staging productions that pushed accepted political and social boundaries.


Actors at Ilkhom said Weil was taken to the hospital by neighbors, who described seeing two young men in baseball caps waiting for the director in front of his building.

Weil was not robbed, and he said he did not know his assailants, according to the actors, who refused to speculate on a motive for his killing.

Online and media speculation on the motive has ranged from an anti-Semitic attack to one by religious fanatics displeased by some homoerotic work by the company.

Homosexuality, punishable by up to two years in jail, is a taboo topic in Uzbekistan.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Completely shocked and sad to hear about this. In high school, I had the pleasure of working on a production of "The Inspector General" with Mr. Weil, and it was a truly wonderful experience and transcendent production. He wanted to bring the production to Uzbekistan (all the way from Hawaii), but it just didn't work out.

May he rest in peace.