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Rome, Italy.

IL VATIC ANO CADE: The English title of this play by American writer Frank J. Avella is Vatican Falls, but the first audiences to see a full production will hear it in an Italian translation by Eveline lacobone. Avella's play was commissioned by Know Theatre of Cincinnati and has been workshopped in New York, but so far no U.S. premiere has been locked down. Meanwhile, surprisingly--for a play about sex-offender priests--an Italian company in walking distance of the Vatican, Teatro Vascello, agreed to mount the play. Here you'll find none of John Patrick Shanley's Doubt; the clerics in Vatican Falls are inarguably guilty of child abuse. The play's moral pivot point has more to do with how far its fictional survivors will go in their quest for justice. Avella took inspiration from real-life protests by groups formed in the wake of the Catholic Church's sexual-abuse scandal, SNAP and Voice of the Faithful, but moved the play squarely into fictional thriller territory with a beautiful Vatican spy, a handsome and conflicted singer-songwriter, and a terrorist plot for revenge.

There's a moment in the play when a Roman native joins the singer and his fellow American ex-pats, all abuse victims, in their violent plotting. "Your culture is so steeped in Catholicism, J assumed you'd want to defend the Church at all costs," the singer says to him. Likewise, Avella professes he is "flabbergasted and flummoxed" as well as "thrilled and a bit nervous" that director Enrico Maria Lamanna, after expressing interest in another of Avella's plays, settled on producing Vatican Falls. According to Avella, reports of Church-related abuse are on the rise in Italy, and he's keen to see how Roman audiences will react to the subject matter. Raised a Catholic, the playwright has no affection for the Church and declares its handling of the scandal to be "borderline sinister and calculating." However, he is quick to point out, "I am in no way advocating terrorism--just the opposite." He adds, "When writing the play I made sure a good friend who is uber-Catholic was nearby to help me understand the beauty of the Mass and why the faith is so important to her. She helped me to try and understand why anyone would want to remain a Catholic after what so many have done in the name of Catholicism." (May 3-22; (39) 6-5898031;


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Title Annotation:GLOBAL SPOTLIGHT; Vatican Falls
Author:Taylor, Nicole Estvanik
Publication:American Theatre
Geographic Code:4EUIT
Date:Apr 1, 2011
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