Talking John Paul II on “A Closer Look”

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Here’s the link to my interview yesterday with Sheila Liaugminas on “A Closer Look.” It was a meaty hour. We talked about:

  • Pope John Paul II’s subversive theater activities during World War II, the subject of my new play, The Actor
  • the crucial importance of the imagination in moral, intellectual and spiritual formation
  • the arts, and especially theater, in their role as a service to contemplation
  • how Catholics can–must–evangelize culture through the arts

Sheila is a gifted interviewer and I really enjoyed our conversation–and I hope you do, too!

Media Appearances Supporting “The Actor”

Had a great time this morning talking to Matt Swaim on “The Son Rise Morning Show” about The Actor. I understand that the show will probably be re-broadcast tomorrow nationally–hopefully on your local Catholic radio station.

And later today I’ll be talking about The Actor with Sheila Liaugminas on her radio show, “A Closer Look.” The conversation kicks off at 6:00pm Eastern, 5:00pm Central.

Announcing the Release of My New Play About Pope John Paul II

Announcing the Release of My New Play About Pope John Paul II

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I’m very pleased to announce today the release of my new play, The Actor, based upon little-known events in the life of Karol Wojtyla, the man who became Pope John Paul. Here’s the official blurb…

Just in time for the celebration of his canonization on April 27, 2014–a new play depicting little-known events in the life of the young Karol Wojtyła, the man who would become Pope John Paul II.

Karol “Lolek” Wojtyła is a talented university student with an ardent desire to be an actor. But on the morning of September 1, 1939, just as he prepares to serve Mass at Kraków’s Wawel Cathedral, German aircraft approach the city signaling the beginning of the Nazi invasion of Poland and the end of Lolek’s life as he has known it.

Yet along with other thespian friends, Lolek refuses to give up on his dream. In secret they pursue their dramatic activities underground, eventually forming the much-heralded Rhapsodic Theater as a form of cultural resistance against the Nazi occupation.

But even as Lolek becomes more deeply immersed in underground theater, the more he begins to hear a call to a very different life. The suffering of his people, combined with the friendship of a mystic-tailor named Jan Tyranowski, challenge him to think more deeply about what his country needs most from him. In the crucible of war, Lolek finds himself an actor in a most unexpected drama.

Based on exciting historical events, and brimming with the indefatigable idealism of youth, The Actor provides an inspiring and captivating portrait of the saint as a young artist.

Find the play here on Amazon. Very soon to be released on iTunes, barnesandnoble.com, and Kobo. Enjoy!

Ecce Homo

Ecce Homo

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“Ecce Homo” by Adam Chmielowski, a.k.a. Saint Brother Albert and a character in my new play, The Actor.

Preparing for the Release of “The Actor”

Preparing for the Release of “The Actor”

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I haven’t had much time to blog of late as I’m in the homestretch of preparations for the release, next Tuesday, of my play, The Actor, based on part of the early life of Karol Wojtyła, the man who became Pope John Paul II. I’m timing the launch of the play with the canonization of John Paul II, which will take place in Rome on Sunday, April 27.

Homeschoolers will be especially interested in talks I’ll be giving at two homeschooling conferences this summer. I’m going to speak on, “Children’s Literature, Catholicism, and the Golden World,” a version of a talk I gave last fall at Notre Dame, to both the IHM National Homeschool Conference in Fredericksburg, Virginia and the IHM Maryland Homeschool Conference in Mt. Airy, Maryland. Here are the dates and locations:

IHM Maryland Homeschool Conference

St. Michael’s Catholic Church

Mt. Airy, MD 21771

Saturday, May 17, 2014

 

IHM National Homeschool Conference

Fredericksburg Expo and Conference Center

2372 Carl D. Silver Parkway

Fredericksburg, VA 22041

Friday, June 20, 2014

I haven’t yet been told the precise times of my talks–I’ll let you know as soon as I do.

At both conferences I’ll be available to sign books after my talks. I will have limited numbers of Patria books with me, so I encourage you, if you’re interested in signed books, to purchase yours beforehand from Amazon and bring them to the conference.

Trojan Tub Entertainment, the children’s entertainment company under which I publish the Kingdom of Patria series, will have a vendor table both the Friday and the Saturday (May 16-17) of the national conference.

I look forward to seeing you at one of these events!

 

The photograph above is of St. Mary’s Church in Wadowice, Poland, where soon-to-be Pope Saint John Paul II was baptized on June 20, 1920. It is reproduced courtesy of Piotrek Szymakowski at Flickr Creative Commons under the following license.

Can You Name This Actor?

Can You Name This Actor?

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My friend Jeff Bruno is doing the cover design for my new play, The Actor, based on part of the early life of Karol Wojtyla, the man who became Pope John Paul II, and today he secured the use of this photograph of the 18 year-old future pope (the photograph was taken in 1938). I think such a headshot makes a fabulous cover for this play.

What do you think?

Very Soon Till Curtain!

Very Soon Till Curtain!

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I couldn’t resist announcing this on Twitter today so there’s no reason not to blurt it out here. (Are we connected on Twitter? Find me @danielmcinerny.) I’m preparing to launch my latest work, one I haven’t even mentioned here as a work-in-progress. It’s a play about a young actor desperate to forge a career in the theatre but who, through the crucible of his country’s occupation during World War II, discovers that he has been given the gift of a very different calling–to the priesthood. The play is called The Actor. The young actor is a Pole named Karol Wojtyla. If that name doesn’t ring a bell, you might better know him as Pope John Paul II.

The Actor is not a full biography of Pope John Paul II, not even of his youth. It concentrates on the period between his first year at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow and the Nazi invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939, and his decision to enter the underground seminary in 1942.

Watch this space for further details on publication, which I’m aiming to be on Monday, April 21, a week before the celebration of John Paul II’s canonization on April 27.

The photograph above is of Wawel Cathedral in Krakow. Karol Wojtyla was just getting ready to serve Mass here when he and his friend, Father Figelwicz, first heard the approach of the Nazi invasion. Photograph reproduced courtesy of Maciej Szczepańczyk at Wikimedia Commons.

A Question for Mr. Rob Lowe

A Question for Mr. Rob Lowe

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Readers of High Concepts: A Hollywood Nightmare will remember Giggs, the hitman-screenwriter-philosopher who debates questions of justice with his victims while carrying out his dirty jobs. This is his blog.

Gadfly Blog. Number 2.

In Sunday’s New York Times Magazine Mr. Rob Lowe was asked what he believes (politically). His answer:

“My thing is personal freedoms, freedoms for the individual to love whom they want, do with what they want. In fact, I want the government out of almost everything.”

To a certain extent I am sympathetic to Mr. Lowe’s concern for freedom from interference. I can think of numerous occasions in my life where the government, and her policing agents, were more than just a nuisance to me. Yet I wonder. At one point, if any, does freedom from interference devolve into moral anarchy? What if I would like to use my freedom to relieve my neighbor of his goods at gunpoint?

No doubt Mr. Lowe would want to draw the moral line at armed robbery. But many in my acquaintance would have no interest in drawing this conventional moral line. If an armed robbery suits their purposes, they pursue it with gusto.

What, Mr. Lowe, would you have to say to them? I imagine your answer would be something like the following:

“Personal freedom can never mean the freedom to interfere with someone else’s freedom.”

Interesting. But what I would like to know is this. Where do you get this principle? And how is it not self-violating?

For after all, in asserting it aren’t you interfering with the freedom of all those who disagree with you?

The “Shoot” Scripts and Diaries Season 1, by Miles Taylor-Reese

The “Shoot” Scripts and Diaries Season 1, by Miles Taylor-Reese

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“That Miles. So much energy, so little parental supervision.” So remarked Giggs, in the pages of High Concepts: A Hollywood Nightmare, about Miles Taylor-Reese, the 16 year-old military academy dropout and slasher film sommelier who ends up in Hollywood dating Persephone Mills and posing as “Newton Orchid,” Donnie Percival’s best friend and amanuensis.

Per his contract with Simon Todhunter and Midas Demiurgos, heads of Pandaemonium Pictures and Phantasmagoria Studios, respectively, Miles squired Persephone Mills around Hollywood, always careful not to be photographed too closely so as not to reveal that his acne was still robust and that he was actually eight years younger than his girlfriend. Miles’s contract as Persephone’s boyfriend was for a maximum of two years, however, and when the contract was up he and Persephone went through a very public period of “conscious uncoupling.” Not that Miles’s lawyers hadn’t provided for him. For there was a provision in Miles’s contract to the effect that, upon its termination, Miles would sign a fresh deal with Todhunter and Midas as writer-director-lead actor of his own television series.

Thus was born “Shoot,” a new television series scheduled to air on HBO about a group of LA friends shooting their own web series.

“It’s a show about the plight of young people coming into adulthood in a post-critical world in which commitment, moral absolutes, and prime-time television have been thrown into the cultural dustbin,” explains Miles, who has happily ceased using “Newton Orchid” in public. “Yes, all the characters are obsessed with their careers and their sexual lives. But underneath all that they’re fretting about their places in the cosmos. Digital technology has lowered the bar of entry for them into the entertainment industry. But it’s also placed on their shoulders, at a conspicuously young age, the awesome responsibility to choose themselves and make great art. Quite frankly, they’re frightened. And that kind of insecurity can be very funny.”

Miles is giving the burgeoning “Shoot” tribe unprecedented access to his creative process and the behind-the-scenes world of television by writing a blog about his experiences. The “Shoot” Scripts and Diaries Season 1 will henceforth be appearing regularly in this space.

 

The photograph above is reproduced courtesy of Ricardo Diaz at Flickr Creative Commons under the following license.

Why Do We Need Heroes? Thoughts After Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Why Do We Need Heroes? Thoughts After Captain America: The Winter Soldier

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Readers of High Concepts: A Hollywood Nightmare will remember Giggs, the hitman-screenwriter-philosopher who debates questions of justice with his victims while carrying out his dirty jobs. Giggs will return this spring in his own crime series, beginning with a trio of linked short stories: Gadfly, Series 1. Wait. What? Will Giggs be the criminal or the detective? I’m not sure even Giggs knows the answer to that question. You’re going to have to read to find out.

Recently Giggs began writing a blog–or something like one.

“Call it a blog if you’d like,” says Giggs. “I prefer to think of it as Aristotle’s Problems meets the Nietzschean aphorism.”

Uh, right. Anyway, I think you’ll agree that, whatever its genre is, it’s pure Giggs.

Posts from Giggs’ Gadfly blog will appear in this space whenever the philosophical muse strikes him.

 

Gadfly Blog. Number 1.

“Literature is a luxury, but fiction is a necessity.” –G.K. Chesterton

I saw Captain America: The Winter Soldier the other day. As I was waiting for the movie to start I was struck by the sight of a grandfather and grandson who bounced into the theater full of giddy anticipation, each one wearing a t-shirt with Captain America’s shield emblazoned on the front. There followed two hours of praeternatural derring-do, shoot-em-ups, explosions, switcheroos, moral compromise on the part of our national leaders, and moral uncompromise on the part of the hero. It was not high art and was not meant to be. It was merely captivating.

Why do we need stories of superheroes? And I don’t mean comic book superheroes only, but all the untouchable protagonists who careen through sensational adventures against tyrannical opposition in pursuit of this thing called “justice.” The knight errant. The cowboy. The detective. The spy. Even the pirate with the heart of gold. What are we looking for in these kinds of stories? What need do they address?

It is easy to sneer and label this kind of fiction “low-brow.” But the creators of same are used to it. They only laugh and keep on telling their stories. Because they know that, whatever the pretensions of the “high-brow,” not even the high-brow can live without them.

Question: what is the grandfather trying to pass along to his grandson?

 

The image above is reproduced courtesy of Marvel Studios.