|Francis, not Hadrian . . .|
I am hoping that Catholics who hear of the plays will curious to see how I treat these characters and how they respond to the conflict between faith and the celibacy that the priesthood imposes. In Angel the conflict is clear. Here is a man with a powerful sex drive - a drive directed towards adults, by the way - who must nonetheless suppress it. What strains does this impose upon him? How does he resolve the conflicting needs of body and soul?
Now We Are Pope focuses less on that conflict, although Rolfe himself was aware of it and responded in his own manner. There the emphasis is more on the writer's challenging personality and his narrow vision of the world. In that play I am more interested in the question whether this is a man who should have been Pope, a man to be respected or condemned?
It's no secret for those who have wandered through my various websites that I am an atheist. But that does not mean that my views on the (non-)existence of God play any part in either play. In my fiction and drama I have never wanted to promote any world view. What I want to do is reveal the complexity of human character, to understand, and help my readers and audience understand, what motivates individuals. In Angel, the (non-) existence of God is irrelevant; what matters is the response of one believer to the impossible demands placed upon him. In Now We Are Pope, Rolfe's fantasy of being Pontiff is merely one facet of a complex character that I hope is gradually revealed as the play progresses.
With these thoughts in mind I have spent several hours yesterday and today emailing and posting notices to Catholic churches, organisations and publications across London, in the hope that they will come to the plays - and stay afterwards to debate with me the issues that arise. Will my efforts be successful? I'll let you know, but in the meantime, if you are of a religious bent, please pass on this post to others. I hope to see you, and them, there.