Artists, Mystics, and Clowns

Authour Brennan Manning explores the need for artists, mystics, and clowns in expressing the transcendent and spiritual:

Fyodor Dostoyevsky passionately believed that he had embodied the soul of the Russian peasant in Marmeladov, the discharged town clerk and disgraced town drunk of Crime and Punishment – a clown, a buffoon, and the father of Sonia, a prostitute.

In a tavern in St. Petersburg, besotted with booze, Marmeladov engages the young rationalist Raskolnikov in conversation. Though the object of derision and mockery by the locals, Marmeladov insists that he is not to be pitied:

But He will have pity on me Who has pity on all men, Who has understood all men and all things. He is the One. He too is the judge. He will come on that day and He will ask, “Where is the daughter [Sonia] who had pity upon the filthy drunkard, her earthly father, undismayed by his beastliness… He will forgive my Sonia, He will forgive, I know it.

Then He will summon us. “You too come forth,” He will say. “Come forth, ye drunkards, come forth, ye weak ones, come forth, ye children of shame!” And the wise and those of understanding will say: “Oh Lord, why dost Thou receive these men?” And He will say: “This is why I receive them, oh ye wise, this is why I receive them, oh ye of understanding, that not one of them believed himself to be worthy of this.” And He will hold out his hands to us and we shall fall down before Him… and we shall weep… and we shall understand all… and all will understand… Lord, Thy kingdom come!”

Dostoyevsky maintained that at the heart of the Russian peasant life existed an unshaken trust in the unrestricted mercy of God… The author’s contemporary, Leo Tolstoy, published his classic novel War and Peace three years after Crime and Punishment. In a dialogue between the saintly Princess Mary and her brother Prince Andrew, she echoes Dostoyevsky’s ethos. Quoting a haunting French proverb, she says, “We should enter everyone’s situation. Tout comprendre, c’est tout pardonner” – to understand all is to forgive all.

…And what of the human heart’s capacity to understand God? Here we need the help of passionate visionaries such as Dostoyevsky. Sacred scripture is too important to be left exclusively to biblical scholars. Theology is too vital to be consigned solely to the province of theologians. To explore the depths of the God who invites our trust, we need the artists, and mystics.

Selected excerpts from Chapter 5 of Ruthless Trust: The Ragamuffin’s Path to God by Brennan Manning.

Read the full excerpt of ARTISTS, MYSTICS, AND CLOWNS

The Persuasion of Beauty

Thornton Wilder (American playwright, authour of Our Town) commenting on some of his short and more religiously themed works, including The Angel That Troubled the Waters at The Davis House, Lawrenceville, New Jersey, June, 1928:

“Almost all the plays in this book are religious, but religious in that dilute fashion that is a believer’s concession to a contemporary standard of good manners. But these four plant their flag as boldly as they may. It is the kind of work that I would most like to do well, in spite of the fact that there has seldom been an age in literature when such a vein was less welcome and less understood. I hope, through many mistakes, to discover the spirit that is not unequal to the elevation of the great religious themes, yet which does not fall into a repellent didacticism. Didacticism is an attempt at the coercion of another’s free mind, even though one knows that in these matters beyond logic, beauty is the only persuasion. Here the schoolmaster enters again. He sees all that is fairest in the Christian tradition made repugnant to the new generations by reason of the diction in which it is expressed. The intermittent sincerity of generations of clergymen and teachers have rendered embarrassing and even ridiculous all the terms of the spiritual life. Nothing succeeds in dampening the aspirations of the young today… –  like the names they hear given to them. The revival of religion is almost a matter of rhetoric. The work is difficult, perhaps impossible (perhaps all religions die out with the exhaustion of the language), but it at least reminds us that Our Lord asked us in His work to be not only as gentle as doves, but as wise as serpents.”

~Thornton Wilder (American playwright)

Read the short play: THE ANGEL THAT TROUBLED THE WATERS

This article was originally posted in April, 2013

Beauty In Brokenness

Producing Artistic Director, Jonathan Harris, shares some thoughts on finding beauty in brokenness and conveying such beauty through the art of story telling:

“Is there something beautiful to be found in that which is broken, damaged, shattered, or in disrepair? Is there something desirable in the unwanted, something redeemable in the seemingly useless? Can something magnificent come out of things or events that are heart breaking, painful, and tragic? Can anything good come out of suffering and pain? Henri Nouwen in his book, “Life of The Beloved” shares some thoughts on the subject:

As I write you now about our brokenness, I recall a scene from Leonard Bernstein’s Mass (a musical work written in memory of John F. Kennedy) that embodied for me the thought of brokenness put under the blessing. Toward the end of this work, the priest, richly dressed in splendid liturgical vestments, is lifted up by his people. He towers high above the adoring crowd, carrying in his hands a glass chalice. Suddenly, the human pyramid collapses, and the priest comes tumbling down. His vestments are ripped off, and his glass chalice falls to the ground and is shattered. As he walks slowly through the debris of his former glory—barefoot, wearing only blue jeans and a T-shirt—children’s voices are heard singing, “Laude, laude, laude”—“Praise, praise, praise.” Suddenly the priest notices the broken chalice. He looks at it for a long time and then, haltingly, he says, “I never realised that broken glass could shine so brightly.”

Perhaps brokenness points to deeper meaning in life, to a need for something beyond ourselves, to a transcendent experience, or to an inexpressible joy. Perhaps brokenness provides a special quality to something or someone, a unique perspective, an intriguing angle, a distinguished imagination, or a lovable characteristic. Perhaps the wounds we all have credit us with a special strength we would otherwise not possess, a strength that may be of benefit to someone else, or for something else we are unaware. In the words of American playwright Thornton Wilder in his short play “The Angel that Troubled the Waters“, “Without your wound where would your power be?” 

So much can be expressed through imagination and creative story telling. It is such a privilege and challenge to share and experience stories through theatre and real life that reveal this often hidden beauty in a wound. We usually have to look really hard to find it, but through stories, it becomes more apparent. These stories have the potential to bestow upon us an otherwise inaccessible and intangible gift, which ultimately allows us to touch and change the lives of others through the power of our very own wound or brokenness.

In the Japanese art form, Kintsukuroi, broken pottery is fixed with a lacquer resin sprinkled with powdered gold, thus increasing the overall value of the creation. I wonder if such a simple and fascinating technique can reveal to us something magical about the human life, human condition, or human spirit as well.”

~Jonathan Harris (Producing Artistic Director)

This blog was originally posted in April, 2013

Ivan and Adolf – Media

May 20, 2015 interview segment with Producing Artistic Director JONATHAN HARRIS on 580 CFRA “Late Night Counsell” with John Counsell. LISTEN TO SEGMENT (May 20, 2015 intro of podcast and at time index 20:30)

May 28, 2015 interview segment with actor playing ‘Adolf’ DAVID PLOUFFE and guest discussion panelist RABBI BULKA on CBC radio’s “All In a Day” with host Alan Neal. LISTEN TO SEGMENT

June 4, 2015 review by Allyson Domanski for Newswest On-line. READ REVIEW

Summer 2015 magazine “Power and Influence” by The Hill Times READ ARTICLE

Ivan and Adolf: The Last Man in Hell

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May 28 (Irving Greenberg Theatre) [Facebook event] – PURCHASE TICKETS ONLINE

May 29 (St. Alban’s Church) [Facebook event] – PURCHASE TICKETS ONLINE

June 17 (Irene’s Pub) [Facebook event] – PURCHASE TICKETS ONLINE

June 18 (Pressed) [Facebook event] – PURCHASE TICKETS ONLINE

For more information about Ivan and Adolf: The Last Man in Hellincluding tickets, character biographies, venues, and show times, click on the poster above, or visit the show page under ‘The 2015 Season’.

 

5 Year Anniversary

June 18, 2015 marks the 5th anniversary of 9th Hour Theatre Company. 5 years ago was the premiere performance of Telling The Storya musical and theatrical collective created and performed by 9th Hour involving close to 60 artists to an audience of almost 500.

4 seasons and 15 productions later brings us to our 2015 season, starting with artistic staged readings of the play Ivan and Adolf: The Last Man in Hell, including a presentation on June 18 of this year.
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Discussion Series – Media

Message from 9th Hour Theatre Company’s Artistic Director JONATHAN HARRIS introducing the Discussion Series, including both The Screwtape Letters and The Great Divorce. MESSAGE FROM THE DIRECTOR

PRESS COVERAGE

Check out a segment featuring our summer discussion series (The Great Divorce and The Screwtape Letters) on CFRA 580’s “Late Night Council” on Wednesday, July 23. LISTEN TO THE SEGMENT

Check out a segment on CBC Radio’s “All In a Day” featuring a preview scene from our very own adaptation of The Great Divorce featuring actors NICHOLAS AMOTT and ELIZABETH CHANT on Thursday, July 24. LISTEN TO THE SEGMENT

Check out a featured segment and interview on CHRI 99.1 FM about the discussion series and two plays (The Great Divorce and The Screwtape Letters). LISTEN TO THE SEGMENT

SHOW REVIEWS

“Powerful, thought-provoking, convicting, inspirational, and entertaining! The ambitious wife, the grieving mother, and especially the staging and performance with the two men and the chain. NYC and London caliber!” (audience comment about The Great Divorce)

Check out the review for The Great Divorce by Maja Stefanovska of the Capital Critics Circle: READ THE REVIEW

Check out the review for The Screwtape Letters by Rajka Stefanovska of  the Capital Critcs Circle: READ THE REVIEW

Take a look at the review for The Great Divorce by Caitlin Oleson of On Stage Ottawa: READ THE REVIEW

Check out the review for The Screwtape Letters by Caitlin Oleson of On Stage Ottawa: READ THE REVIEW

Take a look at the reviews for The Screwtape Letters and The Great Divorce by Kevin Reid of The Visitorium:  READ THE REVIEWS

‘Hear My Song’ Fundraiser

Hear My SongWe would like to invite you to join us for a one time special evening of entertainment on Friday, May 30 at Dominion-Chalmers. “Hear My Song” is a fundraiser for 9th Hour Theatre Company in which part of the proceeds go to Ottawa Innercity Ministries and the work they do with street engaged and homeless people in Ottawa’s downtown core. The price of admission includes a concert of performing arts, featuring past 9th Hour artists and special guests, a visual art show and auction by the street engaged youth of the “Passion 4 Youth” program with Ottawa Innnercity Ministries, as well as some refreshments and snacks at intermission. Tickets can be purchased for $30 (cash only) at the door or in advance online for $25 (alternatively, you can make a donation if you are unable to attend the fundraiser).

Purchase Tickets

In partnering with the Ottawa Innercity Ministries “Passion 4 Youth” Fine Arts program, this true story “Life Song of a Child” was inspirational in developing the theme for the fundraiser: Life Song of the Child