PEN INTERNATIONAL Partners With Martin McDonagh's Acclaimed Play THE PILLOWMAN, Duke Of York's Theatre From June 10 | The Fan Carpet Ltd • The Fan Carpet: The RED Carpet for FANS • The Fan Carpet: Fansites Network • The Fan Carpet: Slate • The Fan Carpet: Theatre Spotlight • The Fan Carpet: Arena • The Fan Carpet: International

PEN INTERNATIONAL Partners With Martin McDonagh’s Acclaimed Play THE PILLOWMAN, Duke Of York’s Theatre From June 10

08 April 2023


‘To shine a light on freedom of expression & writers at risk’

Partnership between PEN International and The Pillowman features: 

Support by award winning writers, including Burhan Sonmez, Mona Arshi, Yann Martel and Ben Okri

Post-show Q&As and essays on the broader theme of freedom of expression and PEN’s work in support of writers at risk

Partnership announced as censorship of writers and freedom of expression is making front page news

PEN International, which has been promoting literature and defending freedom of expression worldwide since 1921, announced today a unique partnership with the West End production of multi award-winning Martin McDonagh’s electrifying play The Pillowman.

With the freedom of writers and debates around censorship making front-page news, PEN International have confirmed a series of events and initiatives to shine a light on the themes that McDonagh’s acclaimed play examines.



Lily Allen plays a writer (Katurian) in a police state who is interrogated about the content of her short stories and their similarities to several murders occurring in the town. The production will run at the Duke of York Theatre in London from 10 June to 2 September 2023, with a press night on 21 June.

Burhan Sonmez, acclaimed writer and President of PEN International said "This captivating play examines the role of the writer in society and reflects on the price paid for exercising the right we all have, to freedom of expression. At PEN, we are proud to be working with this production of The Pillowman, and participate in this ambitious project that supports many of the values we promote such as the need for tolerance, critical thinking and informed debate."

James Bierman producer of The Pillowman  commented "All of us involved in The Pillowman are honoured to work with Pen International, which since its inception in 1921, has worked with writers across the world who are persecuted for putting their ideas into words. These writers rely on PEN International to stand up for their right to freedom of expression, and we hope that by joining forces, we can help shine some light on their important work.  With the growing number of writers under attack, PEN’s mission today is more vital than ever. In the real world it would be PEN who would be campaigning for Katurian’s release and so it’s important we then use  the platform of the play to  campaign for them."

Yann Martel, internationally renowned author of Life of Pi and a member of PEN International’s Writers Circle said "Theatre has the power to change things for the better, and with this exciting partnership between PEN International and the new production of The Pillowman, the light will shine more brightly on the freedoms essential to writers and artists around the world."

Acclaimed author and also a member of PEN International’s Writer’s Circle, Ben Okri, added "How governments handle dissenting voices is often a measurement of how they handle human freedoms at large. This partnership honours all writers and artists silenced for simply expressing their views peacefully, and sends a powerful message in their support, everywhere – at a time when freedom of expression is increasingly under threat."



Throughout the production, the collaboration, sees a series of activities featuring the participation of award-winning writers: PEN International President Burhan Sonmez, as well as PEN’s friends and supporters Mona Arshi, Yann Martel and Ben Okri, among others. These include three post-show Q&As and essays about the role of the writer in contemporary times, resonating and compounding the themes of the play – as well as PEN’s guiding principles and work- on freedom of expression and imagination, and on how writers have often been looked upon to critically engage in what makes us human.



With an all-star cast including Lily AllenSteve PembertonPaul Kaye and Matthew Tennyson,  Matthew Dunster directs the first major revival of Martin McDonagh’s Olivier award-winning play at the intimate Duke of York Theatre in London.

For more information about The Pillowman in the West End visit  

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