A young girl believes she is a stigmata-covered Bride of Christ in 'Mariette in Ecstasy'
| Ashley Lindstrom and Timothy Jo perform a scene from the Trinity University Theater Department's production of Mariette in Ecstacy. (Photos by Mark Greenberg)
The word also, and by design, invokes earthier interpretations. Mariette, like many female ecstatics before her, reports of decidedly erotic spiritual encounters - stories from the honeymoon of a Bride of Christ. Is she holy or hysterical? How does a community of believers confront the seemingly miraculous manifestation of its belief?
In the Director's Note in the program for Trinity University's production of Mariette, Assistant Professor of Drama Royd Climenhaga acknowledges that it was this spiritual-sexual tension, the collision of faith and passion, that he hoped to explore and expand by adapting Hansen's cinematic prose for the stage.
In a written exchange with the Current, Climenhaga emphasized that both he and Hansen intend this adaptation to speak about the broader experience of ecstasy, as manifested in love, in art, in moments of connection both religious and non. The play is not meant to proselytize, nor does it seem to favor any particular religious dogma even though it is set within the context of a Catholic convent.
| Lindstrom as Mariette (right), and Valerie Cortinas as Sister Agnes.
The stunning innovation of this production is that it makes that relationship so literal, so palpable, without sacrificing all-important ambiguity. "God gives us just enough to seek him, and never enough to fully find him," says the convent's prioress. Climenhaga has the audacity to put Christ right on stage, to flesh out the metaphor: Christ and all his brides. Suddenly, it's a seraglio. The combination of arresting visual and philosophical imagery is overwhelming.
| Mariette in Ecstasy
Through Apr 23
$6 adult; $5 senior;
One Trinity Place
Talk-back session with
Ron Hansen, Apr 22, following performance
Climenhaga privileges his sound design over Hansen's text in telling the story. The cast battles the near-constant underscoring throughout, and it's a fight they rarely win. In fact, the final "say" of the show belongs to Leonard Cohen, via Jeff Buckley's transcendent version of his "Hallelujah." "Now maybe there's a God above..." begins the last verse, while the light flares and fades on an empty stage that looks like the aftermath of a party, or a ritual sacrifice. Or both. •