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Stunning 'Four Weddings' church provides backdrop for lecturer's provocative play

Posted on 12/10/2012
Still I Pray

One of the oldest churches in London will be transformed from a place of worship into the backdrop for provocative drama this weekend when a play written by a lecturer is staged in the building.

Adam Ganz, a senior lecturer from the Department of Media Arts at Royal Holloway, wrote Still I Pray for the Building Site theatre company, which will put on a performance at St Bartholomew the Great, in West Smithfield, on Saturday 13 October.

It forms part of the Oxford Samuel Beckett Theatre Trust Award, which promotes innovation in theatre among a new generation of artists, and has been entered into the finalists' showcase.

The 12th century church has already featured in a string of award-winning films, including Four Weddings and a Funeral and Shakespeare in Love.

This production, directed by Anouke Brook, will use the location to explore the concept of church sanctuary, which was recognised by English law until the 17th century. It will also involve the audience, knowingly or unwittingly, in the unfolding action.

“The script responds to the physical space and history of St Bartholomew the Great which was founded as an abbey in the 12th century by a court jester to Henry I,” Adam Ganz said.

“The concept of sanctuary was that people could take refuge in a church and then had 40 days either to surrender to civic authorities or ‘abjure the realm’ which meant going into permanent exile until permission was granted by the King.

“Indeed, it wasn't abolished in British law until the 17th century, so it has an important place in our history.”

He was helped in researching the theme of sanctuary by Professor Caroline Barron, a Professorial Research Fellow at Royal Holloway and an expert on mediaeval London. The play has been supported by Arts Council funding.



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