Years after her son’s death, Mary, mother of Jesus, is visited by the Gospel writers seeking the truth. In an honest, insightful, and moving first-person narrative, Mary recounts her son’s final days. Based on the novella by author and playwright Colm Tóibín, this Tony-nominated play provides a stunning glimpse into the heart and mind of a grieving mother as she’s left with the question: was it worth it?
Part of the Next Rep Black Box Festival, alongside Via Dolorosa.
“Beautiful and daring.”
The New York Times
A Message about The Testament of Mary
At New Repertory Theatre, we hold very strongly to our mission to present plays that speak powerfully to the essential ideas of our time. We chose The Testament of Mary as a way to engage in conversation about those fundamental ideas as they relate to the story of Mary and her son Jesus during a season in which we explore themes of identity.
We in no way intended to offend, but rather our intent is to have a free and open dialogue about the wider issues explored in this work: love, grief, choice, sacrifice. We respect the opinion of those who wish to participate in this discussion and welcome all to engage with us in conversation about this play.
It is our hope that this exchange can reveal something vital and transcendent in this narrative, which is crucial to all works of art. We invite all to attend this production and join with us in conversation.
“The text, what I wrote…is very serious. It’s not as though we’re attempting to get involved with the mockery of icons. It’s almost that we’re recreating or exploring an icon, rather than reducing the iconic. So I would imagine people will respect that.”
– Colm Tóibín, playwright
“While people of Christian faith may, too, be left with many questions by [The Testament of Mary], arguably, that is what good art does. It invites us to ask the deeper questions without forcing us to wholeheartedly agree with its perspective or conclusions. The answers to the questions must be our own. We have our own testaments to tell.”
– Fr. Edward L. Beck, Roman Catholic Priest
Black Box Sponsor:
JIM PETOSA (Director, Artistic Director) joined New Repertory Theatre as an award-winning theatre artist, educator, and leader in 2012. He has served as Director of the School of Theatre, College of Fine Arts, at Boston University since 2002, and Artistic Director of Maryland’s Olney Theatre Center for the Arts and its National Players educational touring company (1994-2012). While at Boston University, he established the Boston Center for American Performance (BCAP), the professional production extension of the Boston University School of Theatre, in 2008. Throughout the Northeast, Mr. Petosa has directed for numerous institutions, including The Gift Horse, Brecht on Brecht, Good, Freud’s Last Session, The Testament of Mary, Broken Glass, Assassins, On the Verge, The Elephant Man (IRNE Nomination), Amadeus, Three Viewings, The Last Five Years, and Opus at New Rep. In Boston, his work was nominated for two IRNE awards for A Question of Mercy (BCAP). He has served as one of three artistic leaders for the Potomac Theatre Project (PTP/NYC) since 1987. In Maryland, his work earned over 25 Helen Hayes Award nominations as well as the award for outstanding direction of a musical for Jacques Brel is Alive and Well… His production of Look! We Have Come Through! was nominated for the Charles MacArthur Award for outstanding new play, and he earned the Montgomery County Executive’s Excellence in the Arts and Humanities Award for Outstanding Artist/Scholar. A member of Actors’ Equity Association, Mr. Petosa has served on the executive board of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, and currently serves on the Board of Directors for StageSource. Originally from New Jersey, he was educated at The Catholic University of America and resides in Quincy.
RYAN BATES (Scenic Designer) has designed Ideation, Brecht on Brecht, Thurgood, The Testament of Mary, Via Dolorosa, and The Snow Queen at New Rep. Other recent scenic design credits include Los Meadows (Boston Public Works); Dear Elizabeth and Melancholy Play (The Umbrella); Blasted (Off the Grid Theatre Company); The Last Five Years (Arts After Hours); The Launch Prize (Bridge Repertory Theatre); That Time the House Burned Down (Fresh Ink); Academy Fight Song (Centastage); A Visit with Marie Curie (Parity Productions); Angels in America (Boston University Opera Institute); and 4000 Miles and Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris (Gloucester Stage Company). Ryan received his MFA in Scenic Design from Boston University and a BA in Theatre and Art History from Middlebury College. Originally from Danvers, he currently resides in Brighton. Upcoming projects include Or (Maiden Phoenix and Simple Machine) at Chelsea Theatre Works.
Composer & Sound Designer
DEWEY DELLAY (Sound Designer & Composer) has composed and designed The Gift Horse, Thurgood, The Testament of Mary, The Whipping Man, Rancho Mirage, and Long Day’s Journey into Night at New Rep. Other credits include Duet (Greenwich Street Theatre, Off Broadway); and The Countess (Criterion, London’s West End). Other regional credits include Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (Lyric Stage Company); Photograph 51 (IRNE nomination Best Sound Design, Nora Theatre Company); When January Feels Like Summer (Underground Railway Theater). He has received an Elliot Norton award for Outstanding Design and an IRNE for Best Sound Design. Television credits include original music for Emmy nominated National Geographic’s China’s Mystery Mummies, Discovery Channel’s Miami Jail, and five seasons of the show Our America with Lisa Ling for the OWN Channel. He presently is contributing music to This is Life with Lisa Ling on CNN.
*member of Actors’ Equity Association, the union of professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States
**member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, Inc., an independent national labor union
***member of United Scenic Artists, Local USA 829
Whose Holy Land: Tradition, History, and Conflict
JAN 24/2016 following 2pm performance of Via Dolorosa
Bridget Kathleen O’Leary
Studying Mary: Questions of Faith
FEB 7 following 2pm performance of The Testament of Mary
Louise Kennedy, WBUR
Colm Tóibín: Irish Literature for the 21st Century
FEB 18 following 7:30pm performance of The Testament of Mary
Kyna Hamill, PhD, Boston University
Colm Tóibín, primarily a novelist, and David Hare, playwright and screenwriter, have bravely ventured into this fraught territory to provide their own perspectives—Tóibín reimagining the voice of Mary, Hare delving into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the inside out. Tóibín originally wrote the play under the title Testament, which premiered at the Dublin Theatre Festival in October 2011. The author then turned his monologue play into a novella titled The Testament of Mary, and finally into a new draft of the play under the same title, which premiered on Broadway at the Walter Kerr Theatre in 2013. Tóibín’s initial choice of drama as the vehicle through which to tell the story fulfilled a particular purpose. As he told an interviewer:
You can spend your life writing novels and never see anybody reading them. You never know at what point they thought this or that. There is an absolute sense of silence. Someone reads it in silence. You might get reviews, or someone might tell you something—the closest thing is seeing stars on Amazon. . . . Having a live audience is both terrifying and a great relief.
Via Dolorosa was written in 1997 in response to David Hare’s own visit to the Middle East. The play was originally performed by its author. Like Tóibín, Hare found drama to be the ideal medium through which to tell his story. In his words:
I could have written an article, but journalism just doesn’t stick. I know far more about subjects I’ve seen plays about than those I’ve read about in newspapers or magazines. It’s rare for journalism to scour deep into the underlying meaning of a subject. Of course, reaction to this play will be diverse, but my claim has always been that people think more deeply when they think together. That’s what theater does. . . . I suppose the test of this play will be whether audiences respond to the questions that intrigue me: What does art add to this situation in the Middle East? How, if at all, does it illuminate?
Both plays are epic in scope as they attempt to grapple meaningfully with the political and religious strife that has defined the area for centuries. However, both plays also feel personal. The playwrights strive to humanize complex perspectives that are often presented as one-sided and dogmatic. Because each play exists as a one-on-one dialogue between actor and audience, the intimacy of the theatrical experience becomes a powerful tool through which to foster honesty, compassion, and potential change.
NOTES BY RUTH SPACK, EDITED BY ADRIENNE BORIS
Geering, Lloyd. “Who Owns the Holy Land?” The Fourth R. Jan-Feb, 2002. Web.
Lassner, Jacob, and S. Ilan Troen. Jews and Muslims in the Arab World: Haunted by Pasts Real and Imagined. Lanham, MD: Rowan & Littlefield, 2007.
Lincoln Center Theater. Overview: Via Delorosa (1999). Web.
Orel, Gwen. “Hearing the Voice of Mother Mary: A talk with Colm Tóibín.” New York Irish Arts. April 21, 2013. Web
Roberts, Jo. Contested Land, Contested Memory: Israel’s Jews and Arabs and the Ghosts of Catastrophe. Toronto: Dundurn, 2013.
Said, Edward. “The Current Status of Jerusalem.” Edward Said’s Lost Essay on Jerusalem. Jerusalem Quarterly 45 (2011). Web.