Open Window Theater play explores JPII’s involvement in underground theater
The popular Open Window Theater play on Saint Pope John Paul II is available for in-person seating and virtual viewing until May 18.
Jeremy Stanbary, executive artistic director of the Inver Grove Heights theater, has joined “Practicing Catholic” host Patrick Conley for an episode airing May 14 about the play he wrote and his plans for the next season.
Stanbary said he was inspired by Karol Wojtya’s young life and his involvement in underground theater. “I was like, ‘This just has to be a play,'” he said.
The title of the play, “LOLEK”, is the nickname of the pope growing up. It covers the formative years of the Pope during WWII in Poland, as well as the experiences and influences that contributed to his formation.
âThis great spiritual giant, and how he came out of one of the darkest periods in human history with such radiant faith, hope and love, and being able to transform the world with it, is something something we can all really learn from, âStanbary said.
Wojtya’s involvement in underground theater was very influential for the future pope, Stanbary said, because he believed so much in the power of beauty, in the power to communicate culture and Christ through culture and through the art.
âVatican II said that we need beauty so as not to sink into despair,â Stanbary said. “He understood this in a powerful way, and the power to communicate faith and hope through the arts and by preserving culture, preserving Catholic culture, Polish culture, as the Nazis try to decimate it . “
Stanbary said the Pope believed enough in the power of theater, art and beauty in communicating the Catholic faith that he risked his life for it.
For the virtual version of the play, Stanbary said an “immersive recording” of the play was used, with a cameraman choreographed on stage with the cast.
âSo he brings the audience right onto the stage with us and into the action in a beautiful and powerful way that we haven’t seen anywhere else,â he said.
Looking ahead, Stanbary said the theater hopes to do a children’s play this summer and that staff members are planning shows for the next season. Another original show is being considered, he said. Stanbary suggested following the theater on social media and visiting their website for updates, openwindowtheatre.org.
To learn more about Pope John Paul II’s involvement in underground theater during WWII and the performance of the play, listen to this episode of the âPracticing Catholicâ radio show. It will air at 9 p.m. on May 14, 1 p.m. on May 15 and 2 p.m. on May 16 on Relevant Radio 1330 AM.
Produced by Relevant Radio and the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, the latest show also includes interviews with Archbishop Bernard Hebda, who talks about his first five years with the Archdiocese, and Allison Spies, who describes life and the service of Bishop Thomas Grace, sometimes called “the forgotten bishop of the diocese of Saint Paul”.
Listen to all the interviews after they air:
Practice Catholic on Spotify
Category: Practicing Catholic