I live in Dublin, Ireland. Sometimes. Most times I live in my head, quite unaware of my surroundings – if you know what I mean… If you succeed in tracking Sean Walsh, please let me know, ok? I've been searching for him for years…
I’m sorry for calling you out of Choir, Father –
MARK What is it, Brother?
DECLAN Well, like, Father Xavier’s down for to say the seven.
MARK I know that.
It’s just that when I went to call him – well, he’s not in his room.
‘No answer when I rang him on the house phone. And when I went up, thinkin’ mebbe he was in a heavy sleep or, or even up before the time and, and –
Get to the point, Brother – please.
His bed’s not slept in, Father.
Hmmm. And no sign of him?
Did you look around? The Library? Community Room?
All right, then. I’ll stand in for him on the High Altar. ‘Better get a move on…
I’ll dress your chalice and Brother John will have the candles lighting.
So… now we have a sleep-walker in the Community.
Well, and if we have, Father Prior, is it in the nude or what he’s in, I’m wonderin’?..
MARK: How do you mean?
His habit, Father. Xavier’s habit is hanging up on the back of his door.”
Why the 60’s?
A modern audience will be able to look back/look into the Church as it was at that time;
the strict regime of “the old days” had only just begun to give way to the changes and uncertainties resulting from Vatican Two;
the old regime of “black is black – white, white” was slowly, inexorably,being eroded;
the element of fear – correction, reprimand, punishment, transfer – loomed large in the clerical psyche;
the shock waves caused by the defection of Charles Davis from the priesthood and the diocese of Westminster had only just begun to reverberate around the universal Church;
the old certainties had begun to give way to the new uncertainties;
when the term, paedophile, was far from common coinage;
when the debate on clerical celibacy/married clergy was still in its infancy;
when the aristocratic Pope Pius XII was still a vivid memory in the minds of the faithful;
when the clerics and religious who lived at that time could not have foreseen the scandals that would rock the Church of the 90’s and subsequent decades…
Briefly, a modern audience will be able to look back at the Church of the 60’s – a Church that no longer exists to any great extent – an era that formed their forebears; view it objectively and with a certain curiosity.
Change, then, is the operative word. Church of change… of friction, dispute, challenge, doubt, uncertainty, the old absolutes gone for ever.
There are several orders of friars/male mendicants in the Church – Dominicans, Franciscans, Augustinians, Carmelites etc. Each with its own insignia, rule. Rather than highlight any one in particular, I suggest that the costume designer create a habit that will be new, original and quite obviously the common garb of a religious order of men.
The Latin of the liturgy – Mass, Divine Office – is contrasted betimes with the music, laughter and bonhomie of a community at recreation. The song – Mary Ann – is a piece of nostalgia that was well known among the friars at that time. The chorus rouses them to join in… towards the end of Act One and again at the end of Act Two… rising to crescendo… before giving way to moriendo… (Sheet music for this melody a postscript after The End…)