"Raising Souls"

"Raising Souls"

Monday, February 13, 2012

Edith Stein - A personal review/reflection

Edith Stein...

I have to say I did not know a lot about Edith Stein prior to us putting on this show at The Open Window Theatre. I had only read bits and pieces on her reflections of the dignity of women - and I was so inspired! She truly is a beautiful saint and woman to look up too! I love strong and intelligent woman that reveal true femininity, and she does just this!

One problem we are running into for this production written by Arthur Giron is that people attending the performance (specifically those who are Catholic or know her story) are expecting an actual biography of her life. While this performance DOES provide important biographical elements to her story it focuses rather on Edith's personal SPIRITUAL biography. There ARE some fictional characters in place to help portray what she had to deal with in her time.

The main fictional character, Carl Heinz, is a Nazi soldier who is supposed to be a culmination of evil represented in the Nazi party. Nazi's not only attacked Jews in WWII but many others as well, including Catholics and the Catholic Church. (We address some of these attacks in our drama on Pope John Paul II as well.) Convents were closed and turned into dance halls, nuns and priests were used in scientific experiments, tortured, and murdered. With that in mind the character of Carl Heinz is not historical specifically to Edith Stein but he was a very real threat to her, the nuns, and her people. As his character he is intrigued by Edith's intellectual strengths and is attracted to her purity/beauty in a twisted and evil way. As he also represents Edith's probable struggle to - Love her enemy- as we are called to as Christians, as well as her journey through the dark night of the soul. He is, in a way, a sort of demonic attack on Edith. As Nazism was very demonic in many ways itself.

Throughout the play, as I mentioned, she struggles to truly love (as Christ loves) all people including the Nazi soldiers, especially Carl Heinz, who is mentally torturing and tormenting her (and more literally her family, friends, and Jewish people). At the end before her final vows she goes to wash Carl Heinz's feet... the symbolism is so beautiful because of what Christ did at the last supper. This part of the play is not to be taken as a literal example of what Edith would have done or even been allowed to do by her superiors. Edith did not actually, leave her cloistered life for a period of time to literally wash the feet of her enemy. It is meant to be symbolic place she reaches towards loving her enemy. I felt the need to emphasize this because there has been some concern over this issue among Catholics.

The beauty of the arts and theatre is that many levels and depths of a story can be displayed in one artistic work at once. I encourage those who come to see the play to keep all this in mind. Although there is a very evil character that plays a lead role-- representing the large role Nazi's DID play in WWII... goodness, beauty, AND truth do prevail in this production of Edith Stein.

Edith is portrayed in an extremely beautiful way and the playwright really captures her spirit and sainthood. While the play is based on a Catholic Saint the story compels and touches people of all different backgrounds.

After opening night Jeremy and I were greeting a couple people who attended the show and one said, "I am a bona fide Christian and he (referring to her friend) is a bona fide Atheist and we both loved the show... it was very non-preachy and so well done." Later the Atheist friend said to Jeremy that the ending scene left him breathless, something he had not had happen to him at a performance in a long long time. We were blessed by these comments and we have received many other great comments and feedback from a Catholic Professor from St. Thomas as well as our other supporters and also brand new patrons to the theatre.

I really encourage you to come and see this production.  To admire and acknowledge a great Saint and to be inspired by her life, faith and virtue. The play, while being a drama, has several funny and light hearted characters that also help bring balance to the show.

Get your tickets TODAY online at Open Window Theatre and enjoy this tremendous production!

***Pictures to be posted soon!***

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