Local director uses play by St. John Paul II to ask: ‘Can love last?’

| October 9, 2014 | 0 Comments
Corey Mills, center, plays the jeweler in a scene from “The Jeweler’s Shop,” a play written by St. John Paul II.  Photo courtesy of Open Window Theatre

Corey Mills, center, plays the jeweler in a scene from “The Jeweler’s Shop,” a play written by St. John Paul II. Photo courtesy of Open Window Theatre

Open Window Theatre’s current production, “The Jeweler’s Shop,” is a project close to the heart of executive artistic director Jeremy Stanbary.

The play, written by St. John Paul II, was Stanbary’s introduction to the world of Catholic theater.

“When I was still in college, studying for my [theater] degree and as I started getting back into my faith, my mom actually mailed me a copy of ‘The Jeweler’s Shop,’”  Stanbary said.

Not knowing about St. John Paul II’s involvement in acting and the theater, he was intrigued.

“Theater and the arts were a big part of his life, and when I discovered that, I became fascinated by it, and I have been a big fan of his ‘Jeweler’s Shop’ play for a long time,” Stanbary said.

The story

The play — written in 1960 when St. John Paul II was still Karol Wojty?a, associate bishop of Krakow, Poland — is an exploration of the nature of human love, particularly married love, Stanbary said.

It explores the nature of love as it plays out in the lives of three couples, with the local jeweler influencing all three, he said.

The first couple is newly married, and the story explores their joy, but also some of their fears and concerns about their relationship.

The couple in Act II have been married for a number of years, they have young children and their marriage is in trouble.

“We’re introduced to their struggles, challenges and really the rift that’s been created in their love, and the possibility of divorce and what that means in the contexts of the sacramentality of their union,” Stanbary said.

The third couple — the son of the first couple and the daughter of the second — are engaged. The play explores their joy, fears and questions about whether love can last.

“It’s really profound all the ideas he’s dealing with,” Stanbary said. “He’s very, of course, sympathetic to the challenges and the weaknesses and the difficulties that the human person experiences, that love brings and marriage brings.”

The stories of these couples are tied together by their interaction with the local jeweler.

The jeweler is only seen twice, but he is a mysterious figure throughout the play who influences a part of each of the couple’s lives.

“There’s this mystical element, like the rings aren’t just metal, and the jeweler isn’t just dealing in jewels,” said Corey Mills, who plays the jeweler and also the part of the narrator. “He’s dealing in faith. He’s dealing in love and destiny and in the spiritual dynamics that are undergirding the couples’ relationships.”

‘The Jeweler’s Shop’When: Now through Oct. 26. Thursday, Friday and Saturday shows start at 7:45 p.m., and Sunday shows start at 1:30 p.m. An additional matinée will be at 1:30 p.m. on Oct. 25.Where: Open Window Theatre, 1313 Chestnut Ave., #102 in Minneapolis

Tickets: $14 to $24, with discounts for advance tickets, students, seniors and children; visit openwindowtheatre.org, or call (800) 838-3006.

Doors open 40 minutes before each performance.

Rhapsodic theater

This production of “The Jeweler’s Shop” is an adaptation because the original is not available for production rights.

The original play was written as a series of monologues, and the adaptation makes it more conventional — by breaking up the monologues — and interactive between the characters in each act, Stanbary said.

“It’s a lot of the inner reflections of these characters that are being revealed to the audience,” he said. “That was the style of the rhapsodic theater that [Karol Wojty?a] was writing in. It was a form of theater that was intended to be very spiritual, very meditative, very reflective.”

Mills is enjoying figuring out the character of the jeweler and how to play him.

“I love the fact that it’s not all literal or linear,” he said. “There’s a lot of metaphor, there’s a lot of symbolism, and there’s a lot of just beautiful poetic language that’s really fun to speak.”

Though Stanbary has known of “The Jeweler’s Shop” for a long time, this is the first time he has been involved in a full-scale production of it.

“My own philosophy behind my art has been very much inspired by St. John Paul II,” Stanbary said. “Everything this play is about really fits in with the mission of Open Window Theatre. It’s a way of celebrating his canonization and his artistic legacy, which has so inspired my work over the years.”

Category: Faith and Culture, Featured