The American Popess

By Windows Outlook Express Email from Ike Jakson whose great Cousin Oom Wennie runs this through IkeLeaks.  Modern IT has failed Mankind but where they have failed Bill Gates still runs the only sure and decent Email System and delivers it straight to your hard disc where you can keep it safe for posterity.  Blah Google Gmail, Blah Facebook, Blah all so-called Secure Sites in Internet or Cyberspace.

 First I hand you the OE Email notes from my source.

 “I had the privilege of attending the play, The American Popess, at the Witwatersrand University theatre during the year 2001. At the time, the performance was in English. The play was translated, I think, from Italian. It was a great performance, a one-man show par excellence. It was one of those experiences in the theatre that will always stay with me. Cilliers presented as an ephemeral presence, temporarily available to the audience as an embodied voice, speaking from the future. This excellent piece has been translated into Afrikaans and will be presented as the radio play for the Thursday night feature, at 8 o’clock in the evening, on RSG, and I am certainly going to take off the time to listen. Cilliers is 15 years older, and it will not be with unkindness that I say that she could possibly carry off on radio what she would no longer be able to do on the stage. But I can say that only because I am the same age, and I know that I have to compromise with my body on a daily basis. The Thursday when this will be broadcast will be 17 November 2016. Make a plan and have a listen. I am quite certain that you will not be sorry.

 I have uplifted a review from the Internet. This was in regard to the play that was presented at the Witwatersrand University, all those years ago.”

 There is a Copyright; please respect that:

 Review: The American Popess

Artslink.co.za

03/12/2001 00:00:00

Copyright
Artslink.co.za
© 1997-2001

Then: well, here we go.  Sit down; make yourself comfortable and ENJOY!

A woman has already ruled the White House – according to some opinion, anyway – but has yet to run the Vatican.

The prospect of a woman pope is even more remote than that of a female US president: the Roman Catholic Church disbars women from putting a foot on the first rung of the ladder to the heaven’s gate. No women priests, no women popes. QED.

Esther Vilar’s play ostensibly examines the acknowledged ascent of the first woman to the papacy (there was an earlier woman incumbent, turfed out on discovery of her true gender). Set in 2033, the play has the shock of the futuristic in its depiction of a transformed Catholicism. The accumulated wealth of the church has been divided among its poorer constituents by a predecessor of Joan II. All the dogmas, doctrines and ancient practices have gone: papal infallibility, liturgy, even the Vatican as the Pope’s home and global capital of the religion has been sold off.

From a tiny 1000-square metre space ceded to the church in perpetuity by the Vatican’s new corporate owners, Pope(ss) Joan II addresses the faithful few – and they are few, one-tenth of the old numbers – by a TV transmission studded with ad breaks. Jana Cilliers holds the stage as Joan II. (Galeboe Moabi has the thankless task of being silently supportive throughout in a curiously superfluous “role”.)

Cilliers is always fascinating to watch, inherently a class act. It’s good to have her back and set to appear in a number of other works to be presented by Opdrag Productions, the theatre company she and director Mark Graham have founded. Performing artists whose work is dependent on the traditions of proscenium arch theatre have to exercise this active option: to expect hand-outs as a creative birth-right is unrealistic and narcissistic.

Joan II is a difficult, unsympathetic role. You don’t have to be a Catholic traditionalist to be startled or even upset by the cynicism of this papacy – or, at best, its accommodation with the grubby realities of the world. Joan herself is an atheist for whom evidence of the existence of a god would be an interesting manifestation, worth at least a few million religious recruits.

But if Vilar’s play seems iconoclastic and virulently anti-religious and anti-catholic, it is exactly the opposite. It is a stout defence of the status quo in the Roman Catholic Church that relies on shock, worst-case scenarios to remind people of what they have before they discard it. You could look at it impishly – Vilar doesn’t – as making a case for not throwing the infant Jesus’s religion out with the holy bath water.

Vilar is cautionary, reminding believers that they should beware of what they wish for, in case that comes true. A liberalised church is not on the playwright’s agenda any more than a woman pope, which is the ultimate anathema, the reductio ad absurdum to which all the seemingly positive liberalisation would lead.

Pope John Paul II would probably approve of The American Popess. It is a scare-mongering propagation of the faith. I found Vilar’s reactionary defence of the church difficult, in small part due to bronchitis and the effects of antibiotics when I saw the opening night performance, but largely because of my own long-abandoned Catholicism, and 12 years at Catholic schools. Now if only John Paul I had not died (or been murdered by elements in the Curia, according to David Yallop’s conspiracy-raking book), my attitude might be different.

None of which detracts from the focus, frightening steeliness and aching hollowness that Cilliers brings to her character. This is a high priest stripped of all illusions and announcing to her followers an apparent reality that in other, simpler times, would have been regarded as unspeakable, the ultimate heresy: there is no god.

Actors don’t create without directors, and Mark Graham’s eye and hand are much in evidence. His commercial credentials are proven; with Opdrag and his creative association with Cilliers, his aesthetic talents can come to the fore more noticeably. I look forward to more Opdrag, more Cilliers and more Graham.

Ike Jakson

In Americus GA saka Americoon

ikejakson@gmail.com

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2 Responses to “The American Popess”

  1. nolanimrod Says:

    Bravo Ike! Very interesting.

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