2007 JOYCE AND THE JESUITS
Jejune Jesuit Directed by Karen Corbett
Stephen Niall McCann
Mother Superior Deirdre Gillespie
Sister Concepta Roisin Murphy
Other Nuns Joan Molony
Dante Riordan; Nun Renée Huish
Virgin Mary Sian Tanner
Mother – May Dedalus Nora Sheehan
Tramgirl; Prostitute; Birdgirl Claire Haywood
Cranly; Fleming; Christian Brother Liam Gillespie
Fr. Dolan, S.J.; Sermoniser Bill Johnston
Fr. Conmee, S.J.
Charles Casey Jimmy Shaw
Simon Dedalus; Christian Brother David Adamson
Cellist Francesca Mountford
Lighting Adric Gardner
Stage Manager Deborah Woolley
Order of Service
1st Station of the Poet: Stephen is Condemned to Language
2nd Station of the Poet: Pandybattered at the Pillar
3rd Station of the Poet: Stephen Receives the Cross
4 th Station of the Poet: Stephen Falls the First Time
5 th Station of the Poet: Stephen Falls a Second Time
6 th Station of the Poet: The Scourging at the Pulpit
7 th Station of the Poet: The Temptation of Stephen
8th Station of the Poet: Stephen Meets his Muse
9 th Station of the Poet: Stephen Meets his Mother
10th Station of the Poet: Stephen Refuses His Mother
11 th Station of the Poet: Stephen Dies to Ireland
12th Station of the Poet: The Resurrection
Jejune Jesuit was a theatricalisation of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man focusing on those aspects of the text which enlarged on Joyce’s education. In order to make the text accessible to those unfamiliar with Jesuitry, a chorus of nuns directed the audience and commented on the action. The play not only drew attention to the poetry of church liturgy (and especially the Litany of the Virgin, so important to the younger Joyce’s understanding of sexuality) but also to its role in learning about those aspects of language and of life which would feed the later poet/novelist’s oeuvre.
The show was mounted in arcade style, and began with a priest-led procession from the chapel and down the colonnades to a Lady Chapel in the cloisters. There the young Stephen pondered God, the universe and his place in it before being monstered by a pandybat wielding Fr. Dolan, while the audience was similarly whipped into shape by Mother Superior, Deirdre Gillespie (‘I want you standing very close together, but not so close I can’t put a piece of paper between you’, and in response to the cold, ‘offer it up’.
The Christmas dinner scene was staged around a huge oval table with audience invited to imagine themselves as visitors. Stephen was an overgrown lad with a winning smile (played by Niall McCann), so it was hard to watch it being erased by political debate that divided his family. David Adamson played a mischievous Dedalus, Jimmy Shaw a heart-broken Uncle Charles, and Renee Huish a truculent and tormented Dante.
Director, Karen Corbett, staged the next few scenes in the oratory with a dancer/actor, Claire Haywood in the roles of Tramgirl/Prostitute/Birdgirl. Her Pina-Bausch-inspired prostitute played with the knicker-bockered Stephen as if he were a rag doll. She represented the evolving female fantasy of Stephen. Both her prostitute and birdgirl dances were accompanied by Francesca Mountford playing on cello her own composition. Birdgirl had sung accompaniment performed by David Adamson.
Bill Johnston doubled as Father Dolan and also as the sermonizer, and again the emphasis was on the poetics of terror, the sermons as act of imagination. Fr. Conmee’s attempted seduction of Stephen was subtly rendered by Jimmy Shaw and reached its climax in the choir loft of the Newman chapel.
The finale occurred in the oratory where Stephen and Cranly (Liam Gillespie) battled it out in a tense scene over whether or not he should do his Easter duty to assuage the suffering of a dying mother. The final scene, difficult to script because of the way in which chapter five becomes a series of quite arcane epiphanies, involved the entire cast offering blank pages to mark Stephen’s escape from the nets of constraint.
Patrons commented that the dramatization evoked memories they thought they had successfully repressed.
HOW A PATRON EXPERIENCED JOYCE AND THE JESUITS