On Stage

Divine Visions

Julian the Humble

See

What: Julian the Humble

Where: Zoom

More:

WHEN: 7:30pm Jan. 22-23, Jan.29-30, and Feb. 5-6

Cost: $5-$15; donations will help keep the Sylvia Center alive through the extended COVID shutdown

Info: http://www.sylviacenterforthearts.org

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

When reading through press materials for local playwright Rosalind Reynolds’ new work, Julian the Humble, the word “anchorite” was used more than once to describe the fascinating woman the title character is based on.

Before searching out more details about Reynolds and the Middle Ages mystic and author who was her muse, I admit to needing to open a dictionary to look up what in the heck an anchorite was. In simple terms, it is defined as a “religious recluse” or “a person who lives in seclusion, usually for religious reasons”—unlike many of the world’s citizens, who are currently choosing to stay far away from other people only because they’re doing their part to flatten the COVID curve and avoid the plague.

But I digress. When Julian the Humble livestreams from Bellingham’s Sylvia Center for the Arts starting this weekend and continuing Fridays and Saturdays through Feb. 6, those watching from home will still be able to enjoy live theater and support the arts even though they’re not yet doing so from their favorite seats at the venue’s Lucas Hicks Theater.

A virtual lobby/Zoom meeting will open 30 minutes before the curtain goes up, and I’d suggest using some of that time to query fellow theater-goers what exactly they know about Julian of Norwich. Do they realize she was the author of Revelations of Divine Love, the first book in English written by a woman? Are they aware she lived through the Black Death of 1348-50, was also called Dame Julian, and had a series of visions where she conversed with God when she was pretty sure she was on her deathbed? Is the word anchorite at all familiar to them? Finally, have they heard that Reynolds’ rendition of Julian’s life is said to bring equal parts irreverence and adulation to this historic figure of yore?

If you want to sound like you’re further in the know, throw out that this is iDiOM Theater’s third livestream broadcast after The Fever and Endgame last fall, and they’ve got the streaming system down. Apparently, the two-person crew works with a seven-camera setup to produce a live edit for its stage productions, and is meant to feel as much like live theater as possible (after viewing Endgame, I can attest to this).

After a further analysis of press materials, I can also confirm the 90-minute play is directed by iDiOM artistic director Glenn Hergenhahn-Zhao and Sean Cook, performed by Dawn Hunter and Lauren Brigolin, and features “three acts, three days, ghosts of the past, plague, pen pals, fan mail, a few too many rats and one too few cats (exactly zero cats), and Julian’s faithful servant Mariann.” Sounds like a divine comedy to me, but I’ll have to watch it to be sure.

Hergenhahn-Zhao adds that since Reynolds is iDiOM Theater’s current Playwright in Residence, Julian the Humble won’t be the last audiences hear from her this year. Upstrong, her adaptation of Beowulf, is on the winter lineup and is currently in rehearsal, and she’ll be also be writing new works for various invitationals and festivals.

“Rosalind has written for our Serial Killer festival for two years, and her work has each time been a standout,” he says. “From short work, she stepped up to full-length productions in our season, staging her premier of Godlike to open last year’s season. Since then she has written several new plays, taken part in our writing classes, and emerged as a new distinct voice of theater in Bellingham.”

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