Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Krewe de Jeanne d'Arc Friends: Come out and support one of our krewe members Artemis Preeshl and Dr. John Sebastian, who participated in the Joan of Arts Fete, as they present a medieval play locally before and after presenting it in Canada!

Loyola University presents the Chester Cycle’s Medieval play, The Ascension,
in Toronto and at Loyola University

LOCAL PERFORMANCE: The Ascension will be performed in Dixon Court at Loyola University, 6363 St. Charles Avenue, Dress Rehearsal on May 20th and Performance on May 25th @ 7:00 p.m.

In late May, Loyola University Professors John Sebastian and Artemis Preeshl will travel to Toronto with several Loyola students to participate in an international medieval dramatic festival and academic symposium. In conjunction with the Canadian performance they will present The Ascension in Dixon Court at Loyola University on Tuesday, May 25th at 7 p.m., with an open dress rehearsal offered also in Dixon Court on Thursday, May 20th at 7 p.m. Loyola students will perform The Ascension as part of “Chester 2010: Peril and Danger to Her Majesty” on Monday, May 24th.

“Chester 2010” will stage a Catholic version of the complete Chester Cycle of 23 processional pageant-wagon plays from the city of Chester, England over the three days of Pentecost weekend, May 21-24, 2010, on the campus of the University of Toronto. The new text has been edited by Alexandra Johnston of the Records of Early English Drama project. The production of the pageants will be shared by Poculi Ludisque Societas (a medieval and Renaissance drama group) and acting companies from all over North America. This version of the Chester Cycle enacts the Christian story from Creation to Judgment as it was either witnessed or read in 1572 by Christopher Goodman, a Protestant divine who objected to its Catholic content and who was instrumental in halting future productions of this medieval Pentecost tradition.

For this special production, theatre director Artemis Preeshl incorporated the Ignatian method of prayer, which she learned in the Jesuit Lenten Retreat under the spiritual direction of Dr. Judy Deshotel, for rehearsal of this Catholic play. Rehearsals commenced with viewing, or imagining, the action in the Reading and Gospels of the Day. Then, cast members entered the scene by role playing inspired by words or images. As a result, the postures and gestures created through role playing were integral in the staging of the production.

Motivated by the research question of the conference, Dr. John Sebastian will present a paper addressing the use of blood imagery in the play. According to Dr. Sebastian, “Blood becomes the central image of this play, with the visual spectacle of a gory and bedraggled Jesus ascending to the Father reinforced by repeated verbal and physical gestures to the bloody drops still emanating from fresh wounds. In keeping with the theme of the Toronto symposium, my paper claims that in its iconography and approach to salvation the Chester pageant offered late sixteenth-century audiences what must have seemed to them a strikingly Catholic representation of the Ascension and one that, in its particularly bloody depiction of Jesus, must have reminded them of the many martyrdoms that characterized the reigns of Mary Tudor and Elizabeth I.”

Director Artemis Preeshl developed an allegorical approach to the medieval play. Set against the backdrop of war between Catholic and Protestant royalty in England, actors take on not only the roles in the production but also important Catholic figures of the 16th Century. For example, the actor playing Peter is costumed as Pope Pius V who excommunicated Queen Elizabeth. “My concept for this production of The Ascension is to examine what offended the Protestant observer. In this case, the allegory expressed in costume design considers the potential politic impact made by the Tailor’s Guild who originally presented this Catholic play.” In support of the Jesuit values of Loyola University, the project goal is the enrichment of scholarship and performance through the Jesuit faith.

The Ascension will be performed at the University of Toronto @ 8:00 a.m. on May 24, and in Dixon Court[1] at Loyola University, 6363 St. Charles Avenue, Dress Rehearsal on May 20th and Performance on May 25th @ 7:00 p.m. In the event of rain, the performance will take place in Lower Depths Theater in the Music and Communications Building at Loyola Univesity.