The Little Flower of East Orange

Some readers may have read "A Jesuit Off-Broadway," which tells the story of my six months with the LAByrinth Theater Company, a New York-based acting troupe, who were creating a new play about Jesus and Judas, which premiered in April 2004. That play, "The Last Days of Judas Iscariot," was written by Stephen Adly Guirgis, a talented playwright whose plays are rich with compassion, humor and insight, and directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman, perhaps better known as an Oscar-winning actor who starred in movies like "Capote" and "The Savages." The play featured Sam Rockwell, Eric Bogosian and a host of other talented actors. That’s a long windup, I know. Anyway, Guirgis and Hoffman’s newest effort opened last week, and for those of you in the New York area, or planning to come by before May 4, don’t miss the opportunity to see "The Little Flower of East Orange" at the Public Theater. As you can tell from the title, Catholic themes, overt or hidden, abound. The play centers on a saintly (but very human) mother (named Therese, and played by Ellen Burstyn of "Spitfire Grill" fame) and her relationship with her less-than-saintly (and even more human) children. His new play touches on questions of grace, nature, compassion, healing, forgiveness, repentance and, ultimately, gratitude. As ever, Guirgis’ new play offers profound messages that are often well cloaked in gentle humor. (Full disclosure: I’m friends with both men, as well as some of the actors, and so am probably somewhat biased. But those with whom I’ve seen the show have loved it.) Here is a sort of slide show/interview with Guirgis and Hoffman from The New York Times: "Little Flower"
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