Wednesday, November 12, 2014

An Amazing One-Woman Play on Dorothy Day of the Catholic Worker

A couple weeks ago, at St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland, I saw an incredible one-woman play on the life of Dorothy Day. Dorothy Day was the founder of the Catholic Worker Movement (co-founder, with Peter Maurin, Dorothy always said). I have been interested in the Catholic Worker since the early 1970s and met Dorothy Day many times. I ate dinners with her (along with maybe 30 other people), went to Vespers with her, and briefly talked with her over dinner. Some of my old friends, in particular Peggy Scherer, Terri Antholzner, and Pat Rusk, were very close friends of Dorothy Day. Dorothy even paid my phone bill one time when I was living in Over-the-Rhine in Cincinnati. She paid it because her friend Pat Rusk had run up an enormous long-distance bill on my phone and Pat asked Dorothy to pay it. Some day Dorothy Day may be canonized an official saint, and that is about as close as I am going to come to knowing an official saint (I have known many unofficial saints!).
Dorothy Day at age 70 [credit Milwaukee Journal]
I first met Dorothy when she was about 77 years old. Even then you could sense her charisma and even her great physical beauty. I have always thought that some of the people that followed her in the Catholic Worker movement were attracted by her physical beauty as well as her ideas, her energy, her religious and political commitments.

The one-woman play I saw, "Haunted by God, was put on by  Still Point Theatre, and the actor was Lisa Wagner-Carollo. She portrayed Dorothy Day from age 20 to her death at 83 (November 29, 1980), and she did it with very minor changes in wardrobe, hair, and body position. It was brilliant acting!

This one-act play reminded me of the power of theatre to move and change people. The 200 people who saw this play will never be the same!

Postscript: I lived at the Catholic Worker house in Davenport, Iowa, in the summer of 1976. Margaret Quigley Garvey was the founder and leader of that house. She and her husband Mike Garvey have published books on Dorothy and the Catholic Worker. That summer has influenced my entire adult life.

Currently I work at a meal for the hungry and homeless at St. Mary church in Painesville, Ohio. The program, called the Karpos Ministry, was established five years ago by Kathy Philipps and a seminarian friend of hers. Hard to say home many people help put on these meals twice a week (serving up to 200 meals per night). The regular helpers number about 20, with another 10-15 coming occasionally.

The Spirit of the Catholic Worker and its mission to live out the Works of Mercy is alive and well!#

From Still Point Theatre's Website:

Lisa Wagner-Carollo

Lisa Wagner-Carollo - Founding/Artistic Director 

Lisa Wagner-Carollo is the Founding Director of Still Point Theatre Collective. She founded the company in 1993, motivated by a strong desire to combine ministry and theatre. Ever since, she has toured the country and overseas with Haunted by God: The Life of Dorothy Day. Among other productions, Wagner has also performed in and produced (for Still Point), the internationally toured Points of Arrival: A Jean Donovan Journey, a play that explores the life and commitment of one of the four North American church women killed in El Salvador in 1980. She is currently touring the United States and overseas with Strong Women, Haunted by God and Deep Listening (death and dying). Lisa also works as a facilitator in Still Point's outreach programs. Her education includes a B.S.E. from Emporia State University. Recently, she completed her certification as a spiritual director at Siena Center in Racine, Wisconsin and has recently begun a spiritual direction practice in the Chicago area. 

Awards: Outstanding Recent Graduate, Emporia State University, 1997 

Seeds of Hope Award, Wheatridge, 2009.


Phil Runkel said...

Enjoyed your post on Dorothy Day.
The photo was taken when she visited Milwaukee in February 1968; she was 70 at the time. It should be credited to the Milwaukee Journal.

View from the North Coast said...

O thanks, Phil! A friend of mine, Tom Heinen, of Wauwautosa, reported for many years for the Journal-Sentinel. Know Tom?