Theology & (Theatre) Arts Round-Up

Over the past few years, I have been collecting names of people and organisations combining theology (predominantly theatre) and the arts. Generally these names have been given to me in the context of a conversation about my work, when, after hearing that I am interested in theology and theatre, the person will immediately ask, ‘Have you talked to X?’, or ‘Have you heard of Y?’

I’ve since spent a month on a road trip around the U.S. to meet some of these Xs and Ys, and I hope to meet a few more this summer here in the U.K. Below is a sampling of these theology and the arts organisations, shared with the hope that you will find at least one fruitful resource or kindred spirit.

Chaplaincies

The Actors Chapel – St Malachy’s Roman Catholic Church in Times Square, NYC. (New York, NY)

The Actors’ Church – St Paul’s Church (Church of England), Covent Garden, London. (London, England)

Actors Church Union – ‘The Actors’ Church Union supports the spiritual needs of those working in the theatrical profession and reaches out to unite with those working in theatre through its Chaplains’. (London, England)

Hollywood Outreach – Chaplaincy for entertainment industry professionals run by members of the Congregation of Holy Cross (Roman Catholic). (Hollywood, CA)

Edinburgh Fringe Chaplaincy Project – New interfaith chaplaincy programme co-founded in 2012 by Transpositions contributor Cole Matson for participants in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. (Edinburgh, Scotland) (Added 4 Jan 2013)

Colleges

C.S. Lewis College – Christian Great Books College with School of Visual & Performing Arts (foundation in progress)

Living Water College of the Arts (Derwent, Alberta, Canada)

Thomas More College – Way of Beauty Program (Merrimack, NH)

Communities

Abbey of Regina Laudis – Benedictine monastery, home to the Gary-the Olivia Performing Arts Center and Hollywood actress-turned-nun Mother Dolores Hart (subject of the recent Academy Award-nominated documentary short God is the Bigger Elvis). (Bethlehem, CT)

Art House America – ‘Art House America was founded with the vision of nurturing creative artists and anyone looking to explore an artful, faithful life.’ (Nashville, TN)

Art Monastery – ‘The Art Monastery Project is an American 501(c)(3) non-profit arts organization dedicated to cultivating personal awakening and cultural transformation through art, community, and contemplation.’ (Labro, Italy & San Francisco, CA)

Centro Aletti Atelier – ‘The Atelier of the Aletti Centre is the place where a group of Christian artists has decided to live, pray and work together. Apart from devoting ourselves to various forms of fine art, we also study Theology, Liturgy, the Bible, Spirituality: here at the Atelier, it is our wish that a new and fresh encounter of art with faith may take place, as well as the encounter of the different Churches with artists.’ (Rome, Italy)

Organisations

Abbey of the Arts – ‘The Abbey is a virtual monastery offering a variety of online classes, reflections, and resources which integrate contemplative practice and creative expression’, founded by a Benedictine oblate. (online only)

Act One – ‘The premier training program for Christians pursuing a career in the mainstream entertainment industry’. (Hollywood, CA)

The Bard School – ‘We are a group of Christian artists of all artistic genres from poetry to dance, from web-design to stained-glass window making, who are all committed to serving God and others through our art… The Bard School is not just a network, nor is it just a place to promote and advertise work; it is a dispersed community and a place for friendship and Christian renewal.’ (London, England)

C.S. Lewis Foundation – The Foundation is ‘dedicated to advancing the renewal of Christian thought and creative expression throughout the world of learning and the culture at large’. (Redlands, CA & Oxford, England)

Dominican Institute for the Arts – ‘Searching for truth and beauty, preaching through the transforming power of the arts’. (Los Angeles, CA)

Foundation for the Sacred Arts – ‘The Foundation for Sacred Arts is a Catholic nonprofit organization founded to stimulate a vibrant renewal in the patronage and production of Christian sacred arts (art, architecture, and music); and to advance the pursuit of excellence in conformity with truth, goodness, and beauty in these arts; for the glory of God, the life of His Church, and the transformation of culture.’ (Washington, DC)

The Fraternity of St Genesius – ‘The Fraternity is an approved spiritual association in the Catholic Church, members commit themselves to praying for those involved in the theatrical and cinematic arts, of which St Genesius of Rome is the patron.‘ (Drogheda, Co. Louth, Ireland) (4 Jan 2013: For more information on joining the Fraternity, or to receive St Genesius prayer cards, contact cooperator member and Transpositions contributor Cole Matson.)

The Holy Biscuit – ‘The Holy Biscuit aims to be the home of a vibrant Christian creative community helping to resource and support those interested and involved in the arts in Newcastle, the North East and beyond.’ (Newcastle, England)

Openings NY – ‘Openings is an artist collective that seeks to foster conversations among artists to explore the connections between creativity and spirituality.’ (New York, NY)

Oxford Centre for Faith & Culture – Affiliated with Thomas More College, the Centre runs the theology and culture journal Second Spring and maintains the GK Chesterton Library. (Oxford, England)

Stabat Mater Prayer Apostolate – ‘Our hope is to effect cultural change by praying for the very creators of contemporary works of art.’ (Dallas, TX)

Performing Arts Companies

(These are largely professional companies informed by a Christian vision, rather than drama ministries.)

Acacia Theatre Company (Milwaukee, WI)

Ad Deum Dance Company (Houston, TX)

A.D. Players (Houston, TX)

Bird & Baby Theatre Company (Chicago, IL)

Blackfriars Repertory Theatre (New York, NY)

Chemainus Theatre Festival (Chemainus, BC)

Family Theater Productions (Hollywood, CA)

Firebone Theatre (New York, NY)

Lamb’s Players (San Diego, CA)

Magis Theatre Company (New York, NY)

Pacific Theatre (Vancouver, BC)

Riding Lights Theatre Company (York, England)

Rosebud Theatre (Rosebud, AB)

Taproot Theatre Company (Seattle, WA)

If you have any other suggestions to add to these categories, please add them in the comments! Contributions will help grow the Transpositions resource list.

ETA: Since comments have had to be closed due to increased spam, suggestions sent via e-mail will be added here:

Leith School of Art

Soul Marks

Christian community theatre companies in Canada:

Acts Theatre Society (Pictou, NS)*

Cornerstone Youth Theatre (Red Deer, AB)*

Fire Exit Theatre (Calgary, AB)

*suggested by Gwendolyn Starks

________________

Image credit: Proto-icon of St Genesius, Fraternity of St Genesius (c) 2007 (used with permission)

26 Comments

  • AndrewF says:

    Thank-you! A helpful reference point.

    I was only recently in a conversation about theological thought of the arts, and noted that much of it comes from a more creative perspective (writers, visual artists, composers etc.) and there’s not so much for those of us who are perhaps more ‘recreative’ as performers (interpreters) of pre-existing works.

    • Cole Matson says:

      Andrew,

      Do you know of any resources that are helpful for the ‘recreative’?

      Cole

      • AndrewF says:

        No, but I’m on the lookout!

        • Cole Matson says:

          Are you thinking about resources that are helpful for theologically-minded critics?

        • AndrewF says:

          More along the lines of how practitioners (I’m an opera singer btw) can thing theologically about what we do.

        • Cole Matson says:

          Got it. So you mean artists (like performers) who create by interpreting others’ work. The best I can point you to at the moment is my colleague Wes Vander Lugt’s recommended resources page on his blog Theatrical Theology:

          http://theatricaltheology.wordpress.com/recommended-resources/

          Wes looks at theatrical performance as a model for Christian ethics, and his page lists books that examine the theology of performance. But I can’t think of any organisations that exist to help performers think theologically about their work.

          If you can’t find it, found it.

        • AndrewF says:

          Brilliant, thank-you!

  • Leticia Cortina Aracil says:

    Anyone knows about projects of this kind in Edinburgh?

    I’m moving there for a year in September and I am really looking for things like this to get involved while I’m around.

    Thank you!

  • Cole Matson says:

    Leticia,

    A quick Google search gives me:

    Cutting Edge Theatre Productions – http://www.cuttingedgetheatre.co.uk/about.php

    And in St Andrews, about an hour by train north of Edinburgh, we’re hoping to resurrect a theatre company affiliated with ITIA. Definitely come up and meet us when you come over!

    Cole

    • Leticia Cortina Aracil says:

      Thank you Cole!

      I found that link too, but being a foreigner I’m looking for recomendations.

      That sounds lovely. I will certainly your invitation! Should I write you when I’m there?

  • Alizabeth Rasmussen says:

    The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology offers a Master of Arts degree in Theology & Culture, with a specific track called Theology, Imagination and the Arts. Looks like a wonderful program – I am considering enrolling for the fall quarter:

    http://theseattleschool.edu/matc

    Thank you for this amazing resource list!

    • Cole Matson says:

      Thanks for this, Alizabeth! You might want to add Seattle’s program to the list of graduate programs in theology & the arts on Wikipedia:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theological_aesthetics#Graduate_studies

      I hope you enjoy the program if you decide to enroll!

    • Jay Briggs says:

      Alizabeth (and Cole) –
      I’m a student in the MATC program at The Seattle School, and would be happy to talk to either of you about it if you’re interested.

      Thanks for publishing this list!

      • Alizabeth Rasmussen says:

        Jay, I would LOVE to talk to you about your experience with the MATC program. Thank you for the offer! Please feel free to e-mail me at alizabeth@faithsquared.net, or let me know how best to get a hold of you!

  • kyle baker says:

    What about Fellowship for the Performing Arts? They’re in NY now, but are touring Screwtape Letters. Max McLean is the driving force.

    Kyle

  • Cole Matson says:

    Two more that have come to me on Facebook:

    All Things Project @ the Neighborhood Church of Greenwich Village (New York, NY):
    http://www.ncgv.net

    Provision Theater (Chicago, IL):
    http://www.provisiontheater.org

  • Lancia E. Smith says:

    Cole, this is so very helpful and truly timely. Thank you for putting this together.

  • Dave says:

    The Applied Theatre Center is doing great work in giving actors, social service professionals, and therapists process drama-oriented tools to assist in bringing change into the lives of under-served communities. Their first conference was held last year, and was fantastic. They sprung out of CITA, and I believe that Dr. Dale Savidge directs both organizations.

  • Nathan Rosquist says:

    Wonderful list! Thank you, Cole.

  • Flyn Ritchie says:

    Here are a couple more from Western Canada:

    * Rosebud School of the Arts (in rural Alberta): http://www.rosebudschoolofthearts.com/

    * Gallery 7 Theatre (Abbotsford, BC, up the Fraser Valley from Vancouver): http://www.gallery7theatre.com/

    • Cole Matson says:

      Thanks, Flyn!

    • Cole Matson says:

      Rosebud might be interested to know about Scott Walters’ project for arts in small rural communities, CRADLEarts (the Center for Rural Arts Development & Leadership Education): http://www.cradlearts.org/

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