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College of Arts and Humanities

The Divine Sister

September 24 - October 3
Theatre, Black Box(128)

Cost: $20 standard, $18 senior, $10 student

The Divine Sister is sold out. We look forward to seeing you at Hair.

By Charles Busch
Directed by Kate Ingram

An outrageous comic homage to nearly every Hollywood film involving nuns

St. Veronica’s indomitable Mother Superior is encountering plenty of hurdles to building a new school for her convent, but the biggest obstacle might be herself.

“Cue the Hallelujah chorus! Charles Busch has put on a nun’s habit and is talking to God, from whom he has evidently received blessed counsel.” —The New York Times

The Divine Sister is presented by special arrangement with SAMUEL FRENCH, INC.

This play will be performed without intermission and contains profanity, adult content, and gunshots.

Setting: April 1966, Pittsburgh


Photo by Tony Firriolo Photo by Tony Firriolo Photo by Tony Firriolo Photo by Tony Firriolo Photo by Tony Firriolo Photo by Tony Firriolo Photo by Tony Firriolo Photo by Tony Firriolo Photo by Tony Firriolo Photo by Tony Firriolo Photo by Tony Firriolo Photo by Tony Firriolo
  • Further Reading

    A Note from the Director

    Warning: This play just might offend you! Or shock you! But it will certainly make you laugh and think about nuns in a very different way.

    Confession: Yes, I was brought up by a devout Irish Catholic father, and at one time (right around 1966, in fact!) I thought I was being called by God to become a nun.

    Charles Busch’s The Divine Sister is a hilarious send-up of all of the many beloved archetypes of Holy Sisters, and he has chosen to set it in 1966. The 1960’s were a period of incredible change and upheaval. The Beatles, the JFK, RFK, and MLK assassinations, the Vietnam War, hippies...

    Pope John 23rd launched a religious revolution in 1962 with the changes he set forth in Vatican II: there hadn’t been an ecumenical council (an assembly of Roman Catholic religious leaders to address doctrine) in nearly 100 years. The goal was to modernize the Catholic church: the traditional Latin Mass would now be said in the native language, and laypeople were invited to take leadership roles in the Church. Catholic nuns and their established order and life-style faced enormous challenges.

    Other related events in the ‘60s: recordings of the French “Singing Nun” actually topped the best-seller lists and sometimes beat out the Beatles! Rosemary’s Baby, the best-selling horror novel by Ira Levin (later an Oscar-winning film) is filled with Catholic imagery and dogma.

    Of course, Charles Busch has included more recent allusions, with a few only slightly veiled hints of Dan Brown’s recent best-selling controversial novel “The DaVinci Code” which may have offended some Catholic sensibilities, but also captured the imagination of readers (and film-goers.)

    The Name of the Rose is a modern novel by Umberto Eco, set in 1372; it is a medieval murder mystery set in a monastery and (spoiler alert) bases its premise on the fact that the Catholic Church was only preserving Aristotle’s ancient Greek writings on tragedy, but they were guarding and hiding everything Aristotle wrote about comedy.

    I can’t help but wonder if this is one of Charles Busch’s favorite books (and later a film–watch it!) Because what is life without laughter? We must not take life so seriously that we cannot laugh at ourselves, and even allow ourselves to belly laugh at what we think is sacred. Enjoy!

    —Kate Ingram, Director

    A Note from the Dramaturg

    Parody is the heightened imitation of style or genre for deliberate comic effect, and in the case of Charles Busch’s The Divine Sister, it bestows a humanity to a group of people that are not always depicted as such in popular culture. The play is an homage to the myriad of nun movies and plays produced throughout the twentieth century including Agnes of God, Doubt, Black Narcissus, The Bells of St. Mary’s, The Singing Nun, The Song of Bernadette, and The Sound of Music. It highlights the tropes (or recurring clichés or circumstances) in these works in order to reveal their absurdity and, surprisingly, allow the audience to imagine nuns in a more complex fashion.

    Nuns have taken solemn vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, but they are still women with personal history, desire, regret, and doubt (yes, doubt). Charles Busch’s iconic history of drag performance in his own works so nobly respects the multifaceted identity of women in the hilariously amplified circumstances he creates. In the case of Mother Superior, how does one approach gender performance when the usual expressions of gender are shrouded in a habit and the decorum of the Church? The result is a tender and profane work of theatre, dedicated to these women of the order and the pop culture they have inspired for generations.

    —Teresa Kilzi, Dramaturg

    “The Divine Sister” is presented by special arrangement with SAMUEL FRENCH, INC.
    THE DIVINE SISTER was produced by Daryl Roth and Bob Boyett at Soho Playhouse in New York City on September 22, 2010. THE DIVINE SISTER was developed at Theater For The New City (Crystal Field, Executive Artistic Director) in New York City in February, 2010.

  • Cast

    1. Mother SuperiorKody Grassett, U/S Daniel McCook
    2. Sister AcaciusBrianna Joseph, U/S Megan Murphy
    3. AgnesAlexandra Voelmle, U/S Lindsay Riddle
    4. Sister Walburga/Mrs. MacDuffieAshley Turner, U/S Sydney Walker
    5. Mrs. Levinson/TimothyMadelyn James, U/S Abigail Cline
    6. Jeremy/VeneriusMike Nilsson, U/S Scott Haupt

    Creative Team

    1. DirectorKate Ingram
    2. Music Director/Accompanist.Abigail Cline*
    3. Scenic DesignerBert Scott
    4. Costume DesignerKatie Leonard*
    5. Lighting DesignerEmily O’Sullivan*
    6. Sound DesignerRobert Dagit
    7. Stage ManagerTanya DeGray*
    8. Movement ConsultantDavid Reed
    9. DramaturgTeresa Kilzi*
    10. Assistant to the Director Daniel Annone*
    11. Assistant Stage Managers Jackie Lawlor*, Christina Miller*
    12. Design Advisor (Costumes)Daniel M. Jones
    13. Design Advisor (Lighting). Vandy Wood
    14. Production ManagerPeggy Carter*
    15. Technical DirectorJohn Heil
    16. Assistant Technical DirectorMichael Layton
    17. Paint ChargeBonnie Sprung
    18. Props MasterBen Parrish*
    19. Assistant PropsLily Novak*
    20. Costume Shop SupervisorEmily Wille
    21. Master ElectricianMatt Decker
    22. Light Board OperatorNeelam Harinandansingh*
    23. Sound Board Operator Max Vojcsik*
    24. Automation OperatorJack Audet*
    25. Run CrewChris Armellino*, Rico Lastrapes*, Brenden Rourke*
    26. Wardrobe HeadAlexander Hehr*
    27. Wardrobe CrewKathleen DeRosa*, Brenden DiBerardino*, Douglas Jensen*

    *UCF Student. All cast members are students.

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