Catholic Protesters Return for Broadway Opening of The Testament of Mary
By Adam Hetrick
Protesters from a non-profit Catholic organization returned for the April 22 Broadway opening night of Colm Tóibín's The Testament of Mary, starring Fiona Shaw as the mother of Christ.
The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property protested the first Broadway preview of The Testament of Mary on March 26, and returned in larger numbers for the April 22 Broadway opening night. Read about the initial protests here.
More than 100 individuals protested across the street from the Walter Kerr Theatre on 48th Street. Musicians performed the "Ave Maria" as part of the protest, while some held signs reading, "Defamation is not free speech," "When did blasphemy become art?," "Mary, we love you. We reject this blasphemy" and "It's fiction, not truth, but 100% blasphemy."
The protesters remained outside the theatre for the duration of the performance and were there when Broadway first-nighters exited to attend the premiere party.
The producers did not comment on the opening night protest, but had offered the following statement to Playbill.com regarding the March 26 protest. "The Testament of Mary explores, in a very serious way, something that matters deeply to all of us. It is neither anti-Mary nor anti-Christianity, but rather a portrait of a very human woman – a mother – who is trying to make sense of and come to terms with the tragic death of her son. We respect the right of protesters to express their viewpoint and ask that they come to our play with an open mind and let the work speak for itself."
Shaw spoke about the play in a recent feature with Playbill. "Mary is an icon, and a symbol," who "has probably been filtered in our lives through Renaissance paintings and childhood religion. She's a very distant figure. But this novel maps out a landscape in which this woman has to cope with her son's self-destruction," to try to understand the reasons for his death, "which is agony for her," she said.
"Theatre is an imaginative frame, so the play takes place now," she continued. "The story is in many people's minds now — 2,000 years after the events, the story continues. And like all stories, it has embellishments — different colors, different aspects. So it is going on now. I went last week to see the Piero Della Francesa exhibit at the Frick Collection. In the 15th century, they painted the Virgin as a 15th-century woman. So in this play, you meet her as a 21st-century mother. But the events refer to a time when the Romans did crucify their dissidents."
Released in November 2012, Tóibín's 96-page novel reflects a new account of Christ, one in which his mother questions the reason for her son's death, his divinity and the followers who called him the son of God.
Tony Award nominee and four-time Olivier Award-winning actress Shaw reunites with director Deborah Warner for the one-woman work that is playing a limited 12-week engagement through June 16.
The production marks the first collaboration between Shaw and Warner to premiere in the U.S. The two have earned acclaim for their work on Medea, Happy Days, Mother Courage, Hedda Galber, The Good Person of Sichuan and The Waste Land.
Tóibín's works include "The Blackwater Lightship," "The Master," "The South, Homage to Barcelona," "The Heather Blazing," "The Story of the Night" and "Brooklyn."
The producers are Scott Rudin (The Book of Mormon, "The Social Network"), Stuart Thompson, Jon B. Platt, Roger Berlind, Broadway Across America, Scott M. Delman, Jean Doumanian, Roy Furman, Stephanie P. McClelland, Sonia Friedman Productions/Robert G. Bartner, The Araca Group, Heni Koenigsberg, Daryl Roth and Eli Bush. The production has set design by Tom Pye, costume design by Ann Roth, lighting design by Jennifer Tipton and original music and sound design by Mel Mercier.
According to producers, "In The Testament of Mary the mother of Jesus tells her story of her son’s Crucifixion."
The production has set design by Tom Pye, costume design by Ann Roth, lighting design by Jennifer Tipton and original music and sound design by Mel Mercier.
The Walter Kerr Theatre is located at 219 West 48th Street. Tickets are available at the Walter Kerr Theatre box office, at telecharge.com and testamentonbroadway.com or by calling (212) 239-6200. Student rush tickets are also available.
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