Open Window Theatre production explores faith and reason arguments

| Susan Klemond | March 9, 2015 | 0 Comments

Not everyone gets excited about miracles, especially if they accept only rational explanations. But just as faith and reason are not truly adversaries, healing and redemption can happen in a family dominated by rationalists who happen to be guarding a dark secret.

A scene from "The Potter's Shed" at Open Window Theatre in Minneapolis. Photo courtesy Open Window Theatre/Matt Berdahl Photography

A scene from “The Potting Shed” at Open Window Theatre in Minneapolis. Photo courtesy Open Window Theatre/Matt Berdahl Photography

The Open Window Theatre is exploring these themes in March in its performances of the play “The Potting Shed” by Graham Greene.

At the same time, the theater is gearing up for an expansion that will add seating and increase its lobby size later this year.

“The Potting Shed,” which ran on Broadway in 1958, is a suspenseful drama about a man who, while seeking clues about his life, discovers that the reason his family ostracizes him stems from an incident no one will discuss that occurred in the family’s potting shed when he was 14.

The play presents a study of faith and reason still relevant almost 60 years later, said director Stephen O’Toole.

“I think it’s about faith and reason not being mutually exclusive,” he said. “It’s about redemption, grace and mercy and new beginnings. It’s funny and it’s smart.”

Open Window Theater is performing “The Potting Shed” March 5-8 and 12-15. For information and tickets, call (612) 615-1515 or visit

Greene shows in the play that humans are spiritual beings and that open minded rationalist ideas are not very open minded, said Jeremy Stanbary, the theater’s co-founder and executive-artistic director, who also performs in the play.

“I thought Graham Greene did a fantastic job of taking the rationalist ideals and arguments in contemporary society and challenging them with a notion of the possibility of supernatural and miracles.”

Serious thinkers and lovers of art, whether adults or teens, especially might like the play, he said, adding that it has received a strong response.

“The Potting Shed” also supports Christian faith, Stanbary said.

“It finally turns the tables on what we feel is happening to us,” he said. “We feel our faith is oftentimes attacked by rationalist arguments and ideals. This play tips the scale in that regard and puts rationalist ideals and beliefs on the table.”

It’s about Christ’s unconditional gift of mercy and redemption, O’Toole said.

“As flawed as we are, we always have another chance,” he said. “We are worthy and have dignity, and there’s something larger than ourselves at work in this life that we’re living.”

Greater numbers of Open Window patrons will be able to see plays like “The Potting Shed” as the theater plans to add at least 30 seats this fall for a total of 120-130, Stanbary said.

With an additional 3,000 square feet in its space near the Basilica of St. Mary, the theater also will enlarge its lobby. It already has added storage, backstage space and a scene shop.

“This is really kind of setting us up more for the long term,” Stanbary said. “It will give us the extra space that we need to operate efficiently for a number of years before we’re in need of another expansion.”

While the theater is already using the space it acquired in February, it plans to make changes to its performance space this summer, he said. The theater is seeking to raise $30,000 to fund the expansion by encouraging patrons to sponsor a seat for $250, Stanbary said.

Founded in 2011, with 2,600 square feet, the expanded theater will have 7,500 square feet. Its subscriber base and ticket sales continue to grow, he said.

“I attribute our survival to God’s grace and providence,” Stanbary said. “There’ve been no less than a few miracles that have gotten us through and gotten us by to this point.”

According to, “It’s surprising for a theater of our size and age to be getting to the point so quickly, but we’re very happy to have this problem,” said Nes Rotstein, chairman of the theater’s board of directors. “Expanding [the theater’s] physical size mathematically means it can reach more people.”

The board and all those running the theater are passionate about it, Rotstein added. “We think it’s about time the faithful community has a home in the arts.”


Category: Faith and Culture