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Pope John Paul II’s Play to Premiere at SCU

SANTA CLARA, Calif., Oct. 8, 1999 – The American premiere of one of Pope John Paul II’s plays is coming to Santa Clara University. The blessing of the English version of the play was given to the director, Jagienka Zych-Drweski (Zick-Druweski), by the pope when she visited Rome in 1998.

The opening night marks the 10th anniversary of the canonization of Saint Brother Albert, from "Our God’s Brother."

SCU’s Theater and Dance department and the Center for Performing Arts presents "Our God’s Brother," a play by Karol Wojtyla (Voy-ti-wa) in 1947, who is now Pope John Paul II. The play will open on Nov. 12 under the honorary patronage of Bishop Patrick J. McGrath of San Jose and the direction of Drweski.

"Our God’s Brother" focuses on the life of Adam Chmielowski, a Polish artist and invalid who loses his leg in a war fighting for Poland’s freedom.

Chmielowski (Shamie-lofski) becomes a famous painter, yet another vocation beckons. He feels a tremendous compassion for the impoverished and transforms his studio into a shelter to accommodate the many homeless strangers he encounters on the streets. He fights for social justice through his submission to poverty, despite the temptation to surrender to his artistic potential. It is a story of a dramatic struggle between personal pursuit and selfless giving.

"Our God’s Brother" touches on the fundamental question of individual freedom versus service to the society.

The story is not a biography, but an attempt to reach through a man to the sources of his humanity. The play traces the history of Chmielowski’s spiritual struggles and his journey to sanctity.

Pope John Paul II has written six plays, three written after he became the pope. The pope considered theater as church in which spirit of the nation will blossom.

In preparation for the play, Drweski traveled to Rome where she was granted an audience with the pope and received his blessing on the play. She also went to Poland to visit St. Brother Albert Shelters and the Albertine Sisters Convent, where she found 50 paintings portraying Saint Brother Albert’s life. Replicas of the original paintings will be displayed in the lobby during "Our God’s Brother."

Drweski is a native of Warsaw, Poland where she was a dancer, actress and a director in professional Polish theater companies for 15 years until she came to the United States in 1967. She joined SCU in 1984 and now heads the acting program and directs productions.

Nick Weber, an actor, director and teacher has been cast in the leading role of the play, along with a talented cast of SCU students. Weber founded the Council Players of San Jose in 1967, where he directed and produced productions. From 1971-1993, he founded the Royal Lichenstein Circus where he performed, trained and directed.

The play was translated to English by Boleslaw Taborski, the English translator for all the pope’s plays.

"Our God’s Brother" opens on Friday, Nov. 12, and runs through Saturday, Nov. 20, except Nov. 15, at the Mayer Theatre, Santa Clara University. Ticket prices are $8 to $12. For show times and ticket orders, call (408) 554-4015. For more information on the Center for Performing Arts, see http://www.scu.edu/cpa.

Home to the Mission Santa Clara de Asis, the University celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2001. For more information or directions to Santa Clara University, see http://www.scu.edu.

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For press passes and requests, call Sunhee Yun, assistant director of media relations, at (408) 554-5557 or e-mail syun@scu.edu.

Visual taping available during dress rehearsals.

Director Jagienka Zych-Drweski and the cast members are available for interviews.

Photos of Drweski with Pope John Paul II and the play are available.

Polish translation is available.

Photos of dress rehearsals and list of cast members.

Tags: popeplay

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