Summer/Fall 2002
Volume 7 Number 1
 

 

 

 

 

 


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Murder in the Cathedral

Under the direction of visiting lecturer Robert Lanchester, a cast and crew of 25 brought T.S. Eliot’s play Murder in the Cathedral to the stage for the Seminary community this past April.
Photo: Eddie Nabhan

PTS students play out a harrowing scene in Murder in the Cathedral.

Set 100 years after the Norman conquest of England, during King Henry II’s attempt to consolidate the church’s reign under his own authority by appointing his friend, Thomas ŕ Becket, to the positions of both chancellor and archbishop, this play tells the story of Becket’s personal struggle to keep the powers of church and state separate, and of his subsequent martyrdom. The script includes four priests, who learn from Becket and care for him; four tempters, who try to persuade Becket to grasp all the power offered to him; four knights, who take it upon themselves to murder Becket for the king; and a chorus, who praise Becket, worry for their community, and mourn his fate. In an unexpected twist following the murder, the knights address the audience in an effort to convince it of the righteousness of their act.

“It’s a very personal and interior struggle the archbishop goes through in being torn between earthly concerns and a heavenly vision of martyrdom,” says Lanchester to explain why he staged the play with a minimum of costuming and set design. “I wanted to keep it very intimate, and the Gambrell Room in Scheide Hall is beautiful. So I wanted to emphasize just the speech, the words, the wonderful depth of T.S. Eliot’s austere and simple play.”
 

M.Div. student Donovan McAbee, the Fourth Knight, said, “I am so glad that PTS places an emphasis on the arts as an outlet of expression to God and to the audience who comes to the production. The experience was a great one.”


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