Sections
>

Vow of violence: Play about pacifist monk gets punchy

Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook
Subscribe

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like Brooklyn Paper on Facebook.

It’s a world gone wild!

A celebration of a famous Catholic monk erupts into a chair-hurling free-for-all in “The Glory of the World,” starting at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on Jan. 16. The play starts and ends long stretches of contemplative silence, but its central section is a surreal trip that includes a 14-minute fight scene, says the show’s writer.

“It’s quiet in the beginning and end, so we thought the middle better be crazy,” said Cobble Hill playwright Charles Mee. “There’s a big, incredible fantastic fight, there’s song, dance, [it is] just this wild, crazy thing.”

The play is set at a 100th birthday bash for the American monk Thomas Merton, who passed away in 1968. The 17 men at the party agree that Merton was a fantastic man, but each for different reasons, says the playwright.

“One man stands up and says ‘I would like to toast him for being such a great pacifist,’ and someone else says ‘Yeah he may have been a pacifist, but I’m a communist, I say he was a great communist,’ and so on,” said Mee. “As BAM put it, it comes together as a layered portrait of what it is to be a human being.”

Each speech, story, and punch thrown by the 17 celebrants adds to Mee’s portrait of Merton, a prolific writer and erudite mystic. The monk’s 1948 autobiography “The Seven Storey Mountain” made him a religious celebrity and inspired scores of young men to seek life in the abbeys. He wrote more than 70 other books, including poetry, biographies, and discussions of pacifism, Eastern religions, and spirituality. He traveled to meet the Dalai Lama and other Eastern spiritual leaders, and Pope Francis gave Merton a nod of his mitre during his address to Congress last year.

Mee wrote “The Glory of the World” for the Actors Theatre of Louisville to perform for Merton’s 100th birthday in 2015. The cloistered cleric lived at the Abbey of Gethsemani outside Louisville for the last 27 years of his life and wrote his most famous works during his time there.

The play would have stayed in Louisville, but a former monk-turned-millionaire theater financier named Roy Cockrum caught the last performance and bankrolled the production’s move to Brooklyn. Cockrum won a $259 million Powerball jackpot in 2014 and has been supporting theater productions with his winnings ever since.

The play runs through Feb. 6, and will perform on Merton’s 101st birthday on Jan. 31.

“The Glory of the World” at BAM’s Harvey Theater (651 Fulton St. between Ashland and Rockwell places in Fort Greene, (718) 636–4100, www.bam.org). Jan. 16–Feb. 6, Tue–Sat at 7:30 pm; Sun at 3 pm. $28–$75.

Reach reporter Dennis Lynch at (718) 260–2508 or e-mail him at dlynch@cnglocal.com.

Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook
Subscribe

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like Brooklyn Paper on Facebook.

Reasonable discourse

Enter your comment below

By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:

You agree that you, and not BrooklynPaper.com or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to BrooklynPaper.com the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Don’t miss out!

Stay in touch with the stories people are talking about in your neighborhood:

Optional: Help us tailor our newsletters to you!