Friday, March 28, 2014

Play about Fr. Michael McGivney and The Blackfriars Repertory Theater

Fr. Michael McGivney was the founder of the Knights of Columbus. Commissioned by the Supreme Council of that organization, this play was written by Dominican Father Peter John Cameron, a member of the Dramatists Guild. He holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in playwriting from The Catholic University of America. His first play, Full of Grace, received the David Lloyd Kreeger Creativity Award and was performed in showcase at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. He is the former Director of Creative Affairs for Paulist Productions. In 1998, Fr. Cameron founded Blackfriars Repertory Theatre with the premiere of his play The Sacrament of Memory about St. Therese of Lisieux. Fr. Cameron’s lyric Passion play The Living Silence was staged in 2002 at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York City. Another of his dramatic works, The Women Who Served, was produced in 2004 by La Compagnia degli Scalpellini under the direction of Elsinor Theatre’s Franco Palmieri and toured Italy to sell-out audiences.

He Was Our Father is written for five actors taking multiple roles and highlights eight dramatic scenes from 19th century Connecticut. It is now available on Amazon

The Blackfriars Repertory Theater, founded by Fr. Cameron, carries on the illustrious theatrical heritage of the Dominican Friars in New York of the Province of St. Joseph. In 1940, Dominican Fathers Urban Nagle and Thomas Carey founded and conducted the Blackfriars Guild: a national association of Catholic theatre companies comprised of twenty-two chapters throughout the country.

Moreover, Fathers Nagle and Carey together ran the only professional level theatre sponsored by a Catholic organization in the United States, and the first religious theatre ever tried in New York City. The Blackfriars Theatre, until recently popularly regarded as the American stages' oldest continuous Off-Broadway theatre, was located at 320 West 57th Street. Blackfriars provided the proverbial great first break to several acclaimed theatre artists including playwright Robert Anderson, actors Geraldine Page, Eileen Heckart, Patricia Neal, Anthony Franciosa, Darren McGavin, and Shelley Berman, and producer Elizabeth McCann.

Blackfriars Repertory Theatre preserves the philosophy and ideals of the original Blackfriars Guild dedicated to producing plays of artistic merit which reflect the spiritual nature of man and his destiny. This new initiative is comprised of a devoted company of priests and lay people. Blackfriars Repertory Theatre is committed to producing high quality theatre of all kinds that edifies, uplifts, entertains, and inspires.

Blackfriars Repertory Theatre works in close collaboration with the Providence College Theatre Arts Department, with Compagnia Elsinor, an association of three theatres throughout Italy under the direction of Franco Palmieri and with St. Malachy's Church, The Actors Chapel, New York City.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Emily Dickinson - The Gorgeous Nothings

I've always been a fan of Emily Dickinson. Growing up in Western Massachusetts, close to Amherst, she always seemed like a local friend, albeit from a different era. She had an air of mystery, this recluse known as the "Belle of Amherst," and her poetry was a thrill for a young girl's mind, even if most of it escaped my understanding.

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of visiting the museum which is now located at her homestead. It gave me a renewed appreciation for this poetic genius, who, for the most part, kept her poetry a secret during her life.

One place Dickinson composed her poetry was on the backs of envelopes. Not only did she write on the envelopes, but she also opened them and cut them into various shapes prior to use. The Gorgeous Nothings: Emily Dickinson's Envelope Poems is an attempt to share with the general public the beauty and uniqueness of these poems that defy translation into simple typographical form. Featuring full photographic reproductions of over fifty of these poems along with a typed translation (Alas, Dickinson's handwriting is almost as bad as mine), the book is a feast for the eye and the mind.

In addition, scholarly commentary is offered by Jen Bervin and Marta Werner, along with a preface by Susan Howe, which invite the writer into Dickinson's world and encourage one to think about these poems created on fragments of paper more deeply.

This book would make a beautiful gift for a Dickinson fan or an English teacher. For those with more casual interest, it is definitely worth checking for at your local library simply to spend some time perusing and appreciating its pages and the one who crafted them.