I’ve written about it before. It’s a kind of traveler, a hobo, a place-to-placer. ``Fortune’s Way, or Notes on Art for Catholics (and Others),’’ a play I wrote, has been performed in California in staged readings in a mission (Carmel), a museum (Monterey Museum of Art), a library (Pacific Grove Public Library), a garden club (the Historic Garden League), an art association (the Carmel Art Association, second oldest art association in America), and even, oddly, a theater with a stage (the Carl Cherry Center for the Arts).
Next stop, a church, St. Angela Merici Catholic Church in Pacific Grove, this Friday evening. This has me a little nervous. When the play was done at the Carmel Mission, it was in a hall, not the actual church, which will be the case at St. Angela’s.
I keep thinking of T. S. Eliot’s ``Murder in the Cathedral’’ or Jean Anouilh’s ``Becket, or The Honor of God.’’ The cathedral was not a good place for Becket in either of those plays even though he was an archbishop and very dramatic. I think Eliot’s play has played in British churches and cathedrals, though, without any harm being done other than that to Becket.
Anyway, St. Angela’s is a friendly place. Angela Merici was brave and ahead of her time, pushing for the education of girls in 15th Century Italy, something Fortune would have approved of, and the church is in my neighborhood. The play is not necessarily religious. It is more about the difficult world of art, survival in tough times not unlike these, and making choices – in this case the title character, E. Charlton Fortune, transitioning from a career as a great impressionist artist to a liturgical artist (just as, come to think of it, Becket moved from hanging out with the king and being chancellor to becoming a powerful clergyman).
And it’s somewhat poetic that the play is being done at St. Angela’s – that is where, in the late 1920s, Fortune had her first liturgical commission. So it’s a coming full circle in a way, a coming home.
By the way, you would think the director (Conrad Selvig, founder of the Carmel Bay Players) and actors (Teresa Del Piero in the title role and John Brady as a bishop) might have about had it with playing in disparate locations, but they have been pretty good sports about it.
Selvig has often been out on the edge as a director so this doesn’t bother him. When I was a drama critic I reviewed many of his shows. I remember a play he directed in which the characters were huge pink and yellow larva rolling about a misty stage. It worked.
Del Piero, quite knowledgeable in art as well as a superb actress, and Brady have worked with Selvig many times and also like taking on a challenge, so after a garden club and an art association and a mission and museum and a library, a church is fine with them. Brady should feel right at home at St. Angela’s since he plays a bishop regally.
The play is also on John Hazeltine’s Traditional Fine Arts Organization website (tfaoi.org), though I don’t necessarily think of Fortune’s art as traditional. But I am happy John has given me some leeway and the play is on the site. John wants me to come up with a list of other plays on American artists. I am working on it. Perhaps I’ll find one or two that were actually performed in a theater. Incidentally, there is an actress who has shown some interest in doing it in France – in a theater that was once a silo. Sounds good.
Causes Steve Hauk Supports
City of Pacific Grove Public Library, Pacific Grove, California; Animal Friends Rescue Project, Pacific Grove; Animal Welfare Information and Assistance,...