It would be beyond belief if it wasn’t true. In 2009, Brisbane’s Catholic community was rocked when the Catholic Church stepped in to oust beloved priest Father Peter Kennedy from his post at St Mary’s in South Brisbane. He led more than 700 devoted parishioners, but the Church’s higher powers doubted his faith. They scorned the statue of Buddha in the foyer and frowned when he blessed same-sex couples, or let women into the pulpit.
So, on a stormy night, after refusing to resign or to fall in line with orthodoxy, an excommunicated Father Peter is packing up to go into exile – when a mysterious young homeless visitor walks out of the rain, wanting to know the story behind this unconventional holy man and what drove him to defy one of the world’s most powerful authorities.
Gripping and inspirational drama, St Mary’s in Exile is the story of a tight-knit community, a poignant reminder that the word ‘church’ refers not to the 123-year old heritage listed Renaissance building, but the bond between the disparate people who gather there. A bond that endured when Peter handed over the keys, amid a media frenzy, and led his flock down the street to the Trades and Labor Council building where they still worship every weekend.
Penned by acclaimed Brisbane playwright David Burton, directed by Jason Klarwein, and featuring Peter Marshall as Father Peter Kennedy, who leads an all-star cast, St Mary’s in Exile is a powerful Brisbane story that chronicles the greatest divide the Catholic Church has experienced in modern history.
David Burton is a writer originally from Queensland. In 2014, David won the Text Prize for Children and Young Adult’s Writing for his young adult memoir, How to Be Happy. Tackling youth mental health and sexuality, it was published in 2015, and was an instant hit with teenagers, parents and teachers, going on to be published around the world.
David’s also known for his popular theatre work. He was the writer and assistant director on the original epic musicals Boomtown and Under This Sky for Queensland Music Festival. He’s also worked closely with the Queensland Theatre Company Youth Ensemble, collaborating with Claire Christian for The Land Mine is Me and Grin and Tonic Theatre Troupe for Orbit.
These works, along with five others he has penned for Grin and Tonic Theatre Troupe, have been performed in schools across the country. In 2012, his verbatim work April’s Fool toured Australia. David is also a frequent public speaker, and co-produces a range of popular podcasts.
Director: Jason Klarwein Cast: Chenoa Deemal, Peter Marshall, Joss McWilliam, Bryan Probets, Luisa Prosser, Kevin Spink, Ben Warren Designer: Anthony Spinaze Lighting Designer: Daniel Anderson Sound Designer/Composer: Justin Harrison Assistant Director: Helen Cassidy Stage Manager: Dan Sinclair Assistant Stage Manager: Yanni Dubler
St Mary’s in Exile
Bille Brown Studio – Queensland Theatre Company, 78 Montague Road, South Brisbane
Season continues to 25 September 2016
Information and Bookings: www.queenslandtheatre.com.au
Image: St Mary’s in Exile – photo by David Kelly