The spring of 2010 will mark two momentous milestones for The Church at St. Joseph’s: it is in its 160th anniversary year, and the building is celebrating its 100th year. A major renovation of the church interior and exterior will be completed in September 2010.
In celebration of these occasions, the Church is interested in fostering increased community involvement and dialogue through focused engagement with the arts. This will include cultural programming, the cornerstone of which will be a fall production of T.S. Eliot’s poetic drama, Murder in the Cathedral. Considered Eliot’s best dramatic work, the play dramatizes the quarrel between King Henry II and the Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Becket, confronting the conflict between divine and human power.
The Church itself has never before undertaken such an ambitious arts project, although it has previously supported local artists by providing rehearsal spaces and sponsoring musical performances for the congregation. The pastor of the Church, Msgr. Kieran Harrington, has enlisted the support of theatre professionals, with the intent of reaching a wide theatre-going public outside of the church’s congregation, creating a unique theatre event that engages the vibrant Prospect Heights community.
St. Joseph’s is also collaborating with a group of locally-based arts professionals to create a Summer Youth Arts Council. This free program for area high school students, coordinated and led by theatre director Alec Duffy, will utilize donated space in the expansive church to offer arts workshops to a group of underserved young people interested in further arts training. Murder in the Cathedral will be a vital outreach mechanism for alerting interested families and participants about this program.
The director of Murder in the Cathedral, Alec Duffy, is the founder of Hoi Polloi, a collaborative theater company. His list of awards includes a 2009 NEA/TCG Career Development Program for Directors. His past work has been supported by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, the Puffin Foundation, the Drama League, and the Edith Lutyens and Norman Bel Geddes Foundation. Time Out New York called Alec’s 2009 The Less We Talk, “pitch-perfect. . . clever, quietly enjoyable. . . this is a chance to watch an already impressive director as he modulates into a higher key.” His recent play, Three Pianos, will be featured in the 2010/2011 season of the New York Theatre Workshop.
I’m very excited to be the producer of this unique project. Check back to the main blog page for updates.