On Thursday, April 22, the saints are marching in. “The Saint Plays,” which open at the Studio Theater at 7:30 p.m., has a unique connection to the University of San Diego. Part of the play is written in honor of Sister Sally Furay, RSCJ, for her contributions to the University of San Diego. Sister Furay, who served as provost and vice president of the university, introduced theatre to USD through a club called the Alcalá Park Players.
“The Saint Plays” is directed by Robert Barry Fleming and written by Eric Ehn who is known for his dedication to alternative theatre and his ability to combine the arts with contemporary ideas and human rights issues.
The play offers an abstract interpretation of the lives of saints and encourages the audience to seek their own meaning of religious images, historical figures, and ultimately faith. This theme of exploration first inspired Fleming’s interest in play, and drew him to USD because of its deep connection to the Catholic faith. According to Fleming, “No other piece directly explored this ongoing commitment as well as ‘The Saint Plays’.”
James Wykowski, cast member, shares his understanding. ” ‘The Saint Plays’ provides a metaphor for USD and its Catholic influence. Not everyone is religious or believes in the Catholic God, however together we tell a compelling story of faith, dedication and belief.”
The challenge in bringing Eric Ehn’s work to life was to prepare eighteen actors to test their own beliefs and trust in a theatre rehearsal process that was unlike any that they had experienced. “The Saint Plays” rehearsals were neither linear nor concrete. According to Fleming, “the goal for the actors was to focus on performance and imagination leading into other worlds.” Coaching and a strong attention to detail were essential in creation.
The cast and production of “The Saint Plays” agree that what they learned and hope to convey through their work is the power of faith. The influence of the saints is experienced in unexpected ways, but the stories that are created are powerful and all hold a universal theme.
— Angela Aguilar
“The Saints Plays” runs April 22- 25 in the Studio Theatre, Sacred Heart Hall. Tickets are on sale at the UC box office.
For more on Sister Sally Furay, RSCJ, 1992 Mother Rosalie Clifton Hill Award recipient, see the Inside USD story “Sister Sally Furay Exemplifies University’s ‘Spirit’ “