Battered and Bright, Celebrating the Saints

Join us for an ecumenical celebration of those we call Saints, portrayed through the lens of theatre.  Elements Theatre Company and Paraclete Press present Battered and Bright, Celebrating the Saints.

The Stage is set for a live large storybook.  Elements Theatre Company actors will bring to life the characters of the Saints Paul, Priscilla & Aquila, Francis, Patrick, Peter, and Catherine of Siena, telling each of their stories before the audience on stage in the Church of the Transfiguration.  

Selected artistic projections and live music provide background for each story.  Artistic Director, Danielle Dwyer, CJ, and James Jordan, Organist at the Church of the Transfiguration have chosen music that underscores the points in the script for each story.  There is both pre-existing music of medieval times and some original composition.

See the Director’s Notes about the process to bring this original production to life. 

Conversation and education are at the heart of Elements’ mission as a theatre company. To that end, in 2013 the company launched a panel discussion series, called Arts in Conversation.   We can expect great discussion after each performance of this production also, with a panel including Artistic Director Danielle Dwyer, CJ, Dramaturg Brad Lussier and moderated by Jon Sweeney, Paraclete Press Editor-in-Chief.  Guests also participating in the discussions include St. Peter’s Lutheran Church pastor Christian Holleck, Paraclete Press authors Bert Ghezzi, Susan L. Miller and Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle.  Receptions in Bethany Guest House.

Batter my heart, three-person’d God; for, you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
– John Donne

November 2 at 7:30 p.m. 
November 3 at 3:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. 

Join us on FACEBOOK LIVE to watch the discussions after each performance!
Here are the links for each discussion for you to warch!



Receptions followed in Bethany Guest House 
Performances in the Church of the Transfiguration
Rock Harbor, Orleans
Tickets:  $35 Regular; $30 Seniors; No charge 18 & under
Special discounts for Churches for 10+ 
Call 508-240-2400 or reserve online here
Saints Barnabas, Francis, Peter, Paul, Pricilla & Aquila,
Francis, and Catherine of Siena


Director's Notes

Director's Notes

Dear Friends,

When we started working on Battered and Bright one thing was non-negotiable:  our stories of the saints had to be as they were–real people living real lives.  The process took on a sort of archeological dig quality, we rummaged through their lives, passions, actions, convictions—all that makes up the mission of a soul.  Keeping this template of focus in front of us revealed men and women who knew themselves, and whose appetite for God overshadowed all else.

As actors, our job is to bring to life the character we are playing, as they say “from page to stage.”  I love that part of the journey.  As I get to know the character, their thoughts, feelings, and motivations, I make an agreement with the character to allow them into parts of myself for a period of time.  I have never regretted that.  I have been frightened at times, but in the end, enriched, changed in some way and oddly at peace with more of myself.  I have heard this process of character development likened to Jacob wrestling with the angel. It can definitely feel like wrestling to get into the character’s skin, and at the same time, not wanting to let them go until they have blessed me.

But wrestling with St. Francis or Catherine of Siena?  That’s another question.  And yet, as we have worked on these people and their lives, what thrills me is their frail humanity.  Their honest and living knowledge of themselves ignited and fed their blazing love of God.  These people, on fire for God and his will in their lives, stumbled often—were angry, selfish, difficult to be with, and still, like King David, were men (and women) after God’s own heart. 

We found hope as we charted their journey of spirit—walking through their lives, exploring their unrelenting commitment and vigorous faith.  In pursuit of a single-hearted call, their lives exploded in vibrant color, and they became heroes of the ordinary and extraordinary.  This work on Battered and Bright has inspired me to align myself with these witnesses; align myself with this freshness of testimony and to play as active a part now as I can in the Communion of Saints.

God Speed,
Sr. Danielle Dwyer
Artistic Director, Elements Theatre Company

My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.   2 Corinthians 12:9

“As we charted their journey of spirit, walked through their lives, explored their vibrancy of faith and commitment, we found hope.  In pursuit of a single-hearted call, their lives exploded in vibrant colors, and they became heroes of the ordinary and extraordinary. ”
– Artistic Director, Danielle Dwyer, CJ

Cast & Panelists

Cast & Panelists


Paul Scene     
Paul                       Brad Lussier
 Arab                      Kyle Norman
Barnabus             Sr. Danielle Dwyer

St. Francis Scene                                                             
Ellen Ortolani, Peter Haig, Stephanie Haig, Sr. Diana Shannon, Kyle Norman

Peter Scene 
Peter                     Brad Lussier
1st Maid                Ellen Ortolani
2nd Maid               Stephanie Haig
Pilate                     Sr. Diana Shannon
Rueben                Peter Haig
Officer                  Kyle Norman                                                                                 

Priscilla and Aquila Scene                                           
Priscilla                 Ellen Ortolani
Aquila                   Kyle Norman

St. Patrick Scene                                                              
Ellen Ortolani, Peter Haig, Stephanie Haig, Sr. Diana Shannon, Kyle Norman

St. Catherine of Siena                                                    
St. Catherine      Sr. Danielle Dwyer


Danielle Dwyer, CJ • Artistic Director, Co-Founder of Elements Theatre Company
A founding member of Elements Theatre Company and current Artistic Director, Dwyer has either directed or performed in nearly eighty of the Company’s productions since its inception in 1993. Classically trained but also skilled in contemporary drama, Dwyer earned her Master of Arts Degree with distinction from England’s prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and the University of London. She also studied voice, acting, and writing with Joanna Weir Ouston at Central School of Speech and Drama (London, England); with David Male at Cambridge University (Cambridge, England); Shakespeare at Shakespeare & Company (Lenox, MA); and at the Stella Adler Studio in New York City. She is the author of video scripts, poetic monologues, and narratives for worship and meditation. 

In collaboration with the Spirit of America Band, Dwyer was involved with directing the Wind Opera performances in South Korea, and the band’s theatre shows in South Africa.  As opera co-director of the 2005 New England premiere, and in 2017 the opera director, of Vaughan William’s opera The Pilgrim’s Progress, she received rave reviews. She has devised and directed several shows for performances at home and on tours in Tuscany, Italy, the Eastern U.S., New York, and Chicago. Dwyer’s directorial experience ranges from the timeless humanity of Shakespeare (King Lear, Merchant of Venice and Julius Caesar), Ibsen (Pillars of the Community) and Chekhov (The Cherry Orchard) to the biting comedy of Oscar Wilde (Lady Windermere’s Fan) and Yasmina Reza (God of Carnage) to the razor-sharp wit and deeply felt humanity of Alan Bennett (Talking Heads). 

            “The preparation was meticulous; one seldom sees an operatic production as powerful in conception  and polished in execution as this Pilgrim’s Progress.” 
The Pilgrim’s Progress, Boston Globe

            “Under the able-handed direction of Sr. Danielle Dwyer this Julius Caesar soars with sight and sound.  Dwyer is able to combine the intimacy of the columned setting, the sound of the slap of the sandals on the stone floor, the dance of burning torches, the rich acting and the beautifully composed music…into not just a play for the audience to view but more like the transport of actually being there.”   –  Julius Cæsar, Barnstable Patriot

         As an actress, Sr. Danielle Dwyer is equally highly acclaimed.  Her recent roles include Blithe Spirit, Madame Arcati; All My Sons, Kate Keller; Merchant of Venice, Shylock; Talking Heads, Irene; Julius Caesar, Calpurnia; God of Carnage, Annette Raleigh; Pillars of the Community, Lona Hessel; Twelfth Night, Malvolio; The Cherry Orchard, Ranevskaya; Lady Windermere’s Fan, Mrs. Erlynne; The Lion in Winter, Eleanor; Doctor Faustus, Mephistopheles; Richard III, Queen Elizabeth; Everyman, Everyman; and Lettice and Lovage, Lettice Douffet.

Brad Lussier – Dramaturg, Elements Theatre Company
Ordained as an American Baptist pastor in 1972, Brad served a congregation in Rhode Island until 1988 when he became a member of the clergy staff at the Community of Jesus. As the resident dramaturg at Elements Theatre Company, Brad serves as the literary and historical advisor. Brad earned his AB in English and American Literature from Brown University. He also studied Creative Dramatics for Children at Roger Williams University, and conducted extensive studies in psychology, earning a Doctorate in Pastoral Counseling from Boston University. As a member of Elements Theatre Company since 2001, Brad has studied with the company in London, Chicago, and New York,  played a wide variety of characters and leads workshops and classes whenever Elements Theatre Company tours to colleges and universities across the country. 


Jon M. Sweeney – Paraclete Press Editor-in-Chief and Publisher

Jon M. Sweeney is the author of more than thirty books of popular history, memoir, spirituality, prayer, poetry, mysticism, and fiction for children. He has been publishing for twenty years on the lives of the saints, in particular St. Patrick of Ireland, St. Catherine of Siena, and St. Francis of Assisi. Jon looks to St. Francis as a primary reason for his seeking to join the Roman Catholic Church, which he did on the feast day of St. Francis in 2009. Jon’s book, The Pope Who Quit, about the saintly Pope Celestine V from the Middle Ages, has been optioned by HBO. Jon’s also the author of The Complete Francis of AssisiWhen Saint Francis Saved the Church, winner of 2015 award in history; Francis of Assisi in His Own Words, 2nd Edition, just published; and The Pope’s Cat, a series for children about a fictional pope who adopts a stray cat from the streets of Rome. Sweeney is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief at Paraclete Press and lives in Milwaukee with his wife and daughters. 

The Reverend Christian Holleck
The Rev. Christian Holleck grew up in New England, studied at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, Heidelberg University in Germany, Princeton Theological Seminary in New Jersey and Luther Seminary in Minnesota, earning a Master of Divinity and a Master in Theological Studies (with focus on Islam).  He has, with his wife Tiffany Nicely Holleck, served as Co-Pastor at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in East Harwich since 2006.   Christian currently serves as President of the Board of the Cape Cod Council of Churches.  He enjoys spending time with his daughters, clamming the Brewster flats, and playing the cello.


Bert Ghezzi –  Author, Speaker
Bert Ghezzi is a popular author and speaker. He has written twenty books, including Voices of the SaintsMystics and Miracles and, most recently The Angry Christian. Hundreds of Bert’s articles have appeared in the Catholic and religious press.

Bert has been involved in all levels of religious education for more than 40 years. He has served as a leader and teacher in several renewal movements. Numerous educational and renewal conferences throughout the United States and Canada have featured Bert as a speaker. He appears frequently as a guest on EWTN and other Christian radio programs.

After receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame, Bert served for seven years as a professor at Grand Valley State University, Allendale, Michigan. From 1975 to 2016, he served as a senior editor for several Catholic and Evangelical publishing companies.

Bert has seven adult children and 16 grandchildren. He heads the evangelization team at St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church and lives near the church in Altamonte Springs, Florida.

Susan L. Miller
Susan L. Miller is the author of Communion of Saints. Her poetry has been collected in the anthologies St. Peter’s B-List: Contemporary Poems Inspired by the Saints and Collective Brightness: LGBTIQ Poets on Faith, Religion, and Spirituality. She has twice won Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg prizes for poetry and teaches at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Her poem “A Vision” was recently featured on BBC Radio 4 during the program Something Understood. She has been published in Iowa Review, Image, Commonweal, Sewanee Theological Review, Black Warrior Review, the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, and online at Sick Pilgrim.


 Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle
Donna-Marie has served as a catechist for thirty years, is a retreat leader, a pilgrimage leader, and an award-winning author of thirty books. She’s an award-winning journalist, international speaker, and the EWTN host and creator of three television series: Everyday Blessings for Catholic Moms, Catholic Mom’s Café, and Feeding Your Family’s Soul. Donna-Marie enjoyed a decade-long friendship with Saint Teresa of Calcutta and her spiritual director was Servant of God John A. Hardon, S.J., Invited by the Holy See, Donna-Marie participated in an international congress at the Vatican and received apostolic blessings from St. Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI on her books and work and a special blessing from St. Pope John Paul II for her work on Mother Teresa. She writes on a variety of subjects in national and international media. In addition to her own TV shows, she has appeared on Fox NewsZenit News, Vatican Insider, and Rome Reports, Vatican Radio, and is a frequent guest on EWTN’s Bookmark, Women of Grace, and Sunday Night Prime, as well as on national radio and television. Her memoir is entitled The Kiss of Jesus. Learn more at her website:

MUSIC TITLES and Accreditations 

Prayer of Saint Gregory  – Alan Hovhaness (1911-2000)
Copyright 1952 – Peer International Corporation

St. Paul
St. Paul  – Mark Albro (b.1954)
Copyright Paraclete Press, 2018

St. Francis
Arrival at the Market in Oxford  – Anonymous 13th century
Public Domain;  Arrangement copyright Paraclete Press, 2018

Priscilla and Aquilla
Kurielaison – Chant from The Syriac Liturgical Rite
Public Domain;  Arrangement Copyright Paraclete Press, 2018

St. Patrick
St. Patrick’s Breastplate  – Irish Melody
adapt. Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924)
Harmony Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958)
1982 Hymnal – Church Hymnal Corp., New York 1985

St. Peter
Tu Es Petrus, from Quatre Motets – Maurice Durufle (1902-1986)
Publisher: Durand & Cie 1960

Tu Es Petrus  – Gregorian Chant Antiphon
Public Domain 

St. Catherine of Siena
Angelorum Gloriae  – Medieval Carol
Public Domain; Arrangement Copyright Paraclete Press, 2018




Quotes & Media

Quotes & Media

Quotes about the performance…

“I attended the Battered and Bright premiere in November 2018 and was astounded by the range of human emotion and saint portrayal in the performance. From St. Paul to St. Catherine of Siena, each scene instructs, inspires, and causes the audience to ponder their own lives and potentials for holiness.”      
   –  Jon M. Sweeney, author, The Pope’s Cat; translator, Francis of Assisi in His Own
; board member, Association of Catholic Publishers, Editor-in-Chief, Paraclete Press

 “Battered and Bright presents living portraits of saints in their humanness, displaying their strengths as well as their weaknesses. The play shows that they are people just like us, not extraordinary visitors dropped down from heaven or another planet. The attractive ordinariness of their daily life, their joy in their relationships, and their perseverance in their trials (not without an occasional tantrum) will persuade both young and old that they too can live as saints.”      
–  Bert Ghezzi, author of Saints at Heart

“As a former Director for Artists in the Schools, Arts for Learning, Cleveland, Ohio, I can tell you I had no clue what to expect from a performance of Battered & Bright. A long-term fan of Elements Theatre Company, I had originally booked their performances for the Nauset Regional Middle School, so I knew whatever this performance was going to be, that the core of it would be finely researched and creatively executed. I had no idea it would be as comprehensive and thought-provoking as it actually was.” 
–  Andrea Shaw Reed, former Director for Artists in the Schools, Arts for Learning, Cleveland, Ohio. 

Some Quotes from Saints

“Teach us to give and not count the cost.”  –St. Ignatius de Loyola

“Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.”   –St. Augustine

“Charity is certainly greater than any rule. Moreover, all rules must lead to charity.”
St. Vincent de Paul

“Christ said, “I am the Truth”; he did not say “I am the custom.” –St. Toribio

“Tribulation is a gift from God – one that he especially gives His special friends.”
St. Thomas More

“Faith is to believe what you do not see. The reward of faith is to see what you believe.” 
– St. Augustine

“Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again: for forgiveness
has risen from the grave!”  –  St. John Chrysostom

“When the stomach is full it is easy to talk of fasting.” – St. Jerome

“The source of justice is not vengeance but charity.”  Saint Bridget of Sweden

“Charity brings to life again those who are spiritually dead.”  St. Thomas Aquinas

“Charity is the form, mover, mother, and root of all virtues. “ St. Thomas Aquinas

“Joy is a net of love by which we catch souls.”  Saint Mother Teresa

“Be a good child, and God will help you.”   St. Joan of Arc