Sunday, September 30, 2012

Late Night Catechism: Chicago, IL

Late Night Catechism is a one-woman play that has been running in Chicago quite a long time.  I planned to attend this before I left Dallas and it ironically fit right in with the religious experiences of the week.

The play is at the Royal George Theatre in downtown Chicago.  Even though I am from a big city I don't actually LIVE in that big city so parking and the traffic of really large cities is sometimes hard for me to deal with.  I left Hammond 3 hours before the play to leave plenty of time to eat and park and I still ended up feeling rushed.

I drive around the block 3 times trying to figure out where to park and get so frustrated I finally just park about 4 blocks away in a public parking lot.  I didn't really want to do that since I will be walking back around 10 pm.  Alone.

When I finally arrive, I am sweating and later than I like to be.  I am the first person there.
This gives me a chance to get a good look at the "set" which is a replica Catholic School classroom.  That is if Catholic School classrooms include a bar.
I also make sure I understand the rules.  I assume now that #10 meant they take tips but I didn't tip when the play was over.
While I am roaming around, a couple in their 60's come in and take their seats.  I will be seated next to the husband which at this moment seems silly as we are the only people here.  The seats are basic chairs, not theatre seats.  I sit down a seat away and explain I will stay there as long as possible so we aren't crowding each other until we have to.  They tell me that they were told it will be a small group and they will likely ask us to spread out anyway. 
It looks like this room will hold around 100 people (though I didn't count the seats) and it is set up in an L shape.  Finally, 8 more people arrive and we learn that we are it...all 11 of us.  The three of us on the short part of the L move toward the middle and have seats between us.
The view from my seat.
I assume that the reduced number of people will greatly increase the possibility of interaction between each of us and the "nun".  The idea of the play is that we are here for instruction and the nun has been made to come because the priest was unavailable and she isn't happy about this.
Sister comes in and starts her monologue.  I can't remember what she talked about.  I remember that she dropped her chalk and stood there waiting until one of the women on the other side got up and picked it up.  Then she got one of the men on the other side up to explain "Easter Duty".  Even though he claimed to be Catholic, she had to lead him through it.  Once done, he wins a prize that is a credit card shaped rosary.
I had no idea what Easter Duty was and didn't know the answer to what Immaculate Conception was, though I thought I did (has to do with MARY being an Immaculate Conception - not Jesus) so I was glad I wasn't called on and I certainly wasn't going to raise my hand unless I was sure.
We spend a lot of time talking about a list of 5 saints and whether they we think they should remain saints.  While talking about Saint Veronica (who ate cat vomit and lots of other disgusting things) she asks if anyone knows what Stigmata is.  I DO I DO I DO!!  I raise my hand and try not to bounce in my seat.
She makes me stand and say my name - which she likes because Noelle is "such a great Christmas name!"  Then she asks me to explain stigmata.  "It is where you suffer the wounds of Christ," I say.  Where? she wants to know.  "The wrists, the back, the feet, the head, the ribs," I answer with confidence.  She is impressed.  No one remembers the back! 
I am about to say, "Well, I have seen that movie a bunch of times."  Looking back, I think it is better that I didn't disclose that's how I knew the answer.  The movie I am talking about is Stigmata from 1999 starring Patricia Arquette and Gabriel Byrne.  Patricia's character Frankie is a self-proclaimed atheist who suffers stigmata and Gabriel's character is Father Kiernan, a priest sent from Rome to investigate/discredit.  I don't think Sister would have been impressed that this is why I know what stigmata is.
There is a short Q&A section, I assume to show off the actresses' ability to ad-lib but there are few questions with a group of 11.  I did ask if she believed that people really can and have suffered stigmata and she answers yes but keeps it pretty short.
All-in-all, I didn't think this play was funny.  It is supposed to be hilarious according to the reviews and to some of the comments on You Tube, where you can check out some videos (though photography is prohibited).  I smiled a couple of times but never really laughed.
Maybe I was too young (I am probably 20 years younger than the other people here and some of them laughed a lot).  Maybe you have to be Catholic.  I really don't know but I know I just didn't like this play.
The best thing that came out of this was my prize for knowing the answer to the stigmata question:
This might come in handy on the dark, lonely walk back to the deserted parking garage.


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