Written for the 10th Anniversary of the Dedication of the Church of the Transfiguration
Set in the dramatic space of the Church of the Transfiguration, The Doorway tells the story of an artist’s experience as she comes to the completion of her work in the church. Nearly finished with her tasks, Madeleine is stumped by the final inscription for a chalice that remains to be carved. Her muse, an owl named Theodore, advises her to call upon the building itself, and the stories recorded in the art there, to help her find the final missing piece that will bring the work to an end. Bridging the real and the fantastic, The Doorway echoes the completion of the Church of the Transfiguration at its 10th Dedication Anniversary this summer.
Cast & Staff
Cast & Staff
(In order of their appearance)
|Madeleine||Sr. Danielle Dwyer|
|Earth||Sr. Phoenix Catlin|
|Beggar||Br. Dan Parnell|
|Jesus||Br. Stephen Velie|
|John, the Baptizer||Br. Abraham Henderson|
|Elijah||Br. Abraham Henderson|
|James||Br. Anthony Kanaga|
Elements Chorus – Echoes
Sr Danielle Dwyer
To see the entire program or read the program notes click here
News & Reviews
News & Reviews
FROM THE PLAYWRIGHT:
by Phyllis Tickle
Tell us about the process of creating The Doorway. What was it like to write for this specific playing space?
When Mother Betty and the Community of Jesus first approached me about this, we were thinking in terms of a piece that would travel – a touring piece. So in terms of liturgical drama, a signatory piece written for one space was not originally our intention, but that is what this became, and hopefully it will be played here every year. It celebrates the structure, enhancing the teaching aspect of the space, but beyond that, it welds or melds the spirit of the people who worship there. This can’t just be done with words; it must be aesthetic and experiential. It’s very close to what happens when a space has been prayed in through the centuries – when you walk in you just get a sense of it.
I went into the church alone three times. Finally, I lay down on the floor on the western side of the ambo, and just shut up for 30 or 40 minutes. It had been so long since Jeremiah [Elements performed Ms. Tickle’s Figs and Fury for the Dedication of the church in 2000] I wandered around to see sight lines and things. At first I wanted to use the windows as boxes with shutters for the players to come and go, but this evolved too.
That space is a womb composed of stuff and story. It has its own story, and it wants to tell its own story, not traveling around. That is a defining characteristic or circumstance of a major religious site, and this space demands that recognition. And the doorway of the church itself is the passageway that enables or enhances that storytelling – like the birth canal between the secular and ecclesial world.
One way this particular production differs from the genre as a signatory piece, is the imposition of the set in that space. This is imaginative and ingenious – especially the stairways!
Can you talk about the birth of the characters?
I’m in love with Maddy. She’s the lynchpin that makes the whole thing go. She is every artist that ever touched that space, or any other space. She is also fully realized from my affection for Sr. Danielle. While I wrote, it was like my forehead was a screen and I was seeing her the whole time. When you’ve got a company with a really strong actress, you write to that strength.
Then of course Theo – to do this type of “holy” work, you have to have the counterbalance of the fantastical, otherwise it bogs down in the religious and you miss the magic. I believe that religion can’t take itself too seriously – it has to acknowledge the magical. And Brad is the coup de grace – the owl construct he operates is a hoot! The character was written to his strengths. “Theodore” means “gift of God”, and he is the conduit that every artist and space knows in this process.
At the beginning, Sr. Danielle asked for two things. The first was some way to include archetypes, and this led to the depersonalization of characters from the frescos, for example the King and the Whore. She was looking for that “primordial impetus” in telling the stories, and using the archetypes plays perfectly to that.
Secondly, she wanted to involve the Elements – Earth, Water, Fire, Air – and this has really evolved through the process. What the Elements give us is all we’ve got to work with. They began to tell me what they wanted to do and be. Plus it’s a great play on the name of the company.
It’s been wonderful – I love drama and the Community of Jesus. It’s been a pleasure to come and go, and work with the space and the company. You know drama is good if it plays in people’s heads for days afterwards, especially the things they didn’t get. So this will be the test!
From the Director
From the Director
Welcome to The Doorway, a play written specifically for 10th Anniversary of the Dedication of the Church of the Transfiguration – a play that celebrates many aspects of the church, the people, and stories that inhabit this space.
The world of The Doorway exists in Madeleine’s imagination, and as one of the main characters in the story, this world allows for great possibilities of whimsy, magic, and opportunities to exercise what S.T. Coleridge called the willing suspension of disbelief. Mr. Coleridge calls this exercise poetic faith, the ability to allow characters supernatural, natural, and whimsical to inhabit the same time and space in the service of truth in story.
This building, full of story, in and of itself holds no magical qualities without the people who inhabit this space and the active exercising of their faith. So, while this space is an Ebenezer to many of us, it cannot hold any power without the transforming nature of faith. With the truth provided by faith fully present, this building can become a point of convergence for many of the “magical” qualities of God and be an invitation to poetic faith. In such a house of convergence, faith can enable us to mingle with the people of story, and experience their lives; indeed, we can be transported into the presence of Jesus who takes three disciples up to a mountain, and breaks into understood time, to merge with Moses and Elijah who have lived and died centuries before, to have his true nature revealed by God the Father, and, after such an awe inspiring event, require the disciples to tell no one.
What does that kind of supernatural knowledge and intercourse with that kind of energy do to a person? It fuels a hunger to look for the presence of God in both the world and the people around them. It is this intoxicating, life giving experience that haunts and fuels the saints and faithful, us, to pursue relationship with the Divine. This magnetic energy leads us back to the source, and in that moment of recognition, we find a bit of completion, seeing the other side of ourselves in His glory.
So, on this anniversary, we look to this building, its revelation, and our ever-evolving interaction with the Divine and remember our cornerstone, which calls us out and beyond ourselves…
All you who seek Christ lift your eyes up on high.
Thank you for celebrating with us,
Danielle Dwyer, CJ