Thursday, December 11, 2008

Journey Home on December 15


Kevin O'Brien will be interviewed live by Marcus Grodi on Monday, December 15 at 8:00 pm Eastern, 7:00 pm Central on The Journey Home on EWTN.

Kevin will talk about his journey from atheist to Catholic - with acting and writing along the way - and will take questions via calls and emails from viewers.

Be sure to watch as Kevin describes his amazing journey of faith!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Chesterton Responds


For at present we all tend to one mistake; we tend to make politics too important. We tend to forget how huge a part of a man's life is the same under a Sultan and a Senate, under Nero or St. Louis. Daybreak is a never-ending glory, getting out of bed is a never-ending nuisance; food and friends will be welcomed; work and strangers must be accepted and endured; birds will go bedwards and children won't, to the end of the last evening. And the worst peril is that in our just modern revolt against intolerable accidents we may have unsettled those things that alone make daily life tolerable. It will be an ironic tragedy if, when we have toiled to find rest, we find we are incurably restless. It will be sad if, when we have worked for our holiday, we find we have unlearnt everything but work. The typical modern man is the insane millionaire who has drudged to get money, and then finds he cannot enjoy even money. There is danger that the social reformer may silently and occultly develop some of the madness of the millionaire whom he denounces. He may find that he has learnt how to build playgrounds but forgotten how to play. He may agitate for peace and quiet, but only propagate his own mental agitation. In his long fight to get a shave a half-holiday he may angrily deny those ancient and natural things, the zest of being, the divinity of man, the sacredness of simple things, the health and humour of the earth, which alone make a half-holiday even half a holiday or a slave even half a man.

There is danger in that modern phrase 'divine discontent'. There is truth in it also, of course; but it is only truth of a special and secondary kind. Much of the quarrel between Christianity and the world has been due to this fact; that there are generally two truths, as it were, at any given moment of revolt or reaction, and the ancient underlying truism which is nevertheless true all the time. It is sometimes worth while to point out that black is not so black as it is painted; but black is still black, and not white. So with the merits of content and discontent. It is true that in certain acute and painful crises of oppression or disgrace, discontent is a duty and shame could call us like a trumpet. But it is not true that man should look at life with an eye of discontent, however high-minded. It is not true that in his primary, naked relation to the world, in his relation to sex, to pain, to comradeship, to the grave or to the weather, man ought to make discontent his ideal; it is black lunacy. Half his poor little hopes of happiness hang on his thinking a small house pretty, a plain wife charming, a lame foot not unbearable, and bad cards not so bad. The voice of the special rebels and prophets, recommending discontent, should, as I have said, sound now and then suddenly, like a trumpet. But the voices of the saints and sages, recommending contentment, should sound unceasingly, like the sea.

G.K. Chesterton, “What is Right with the World” - thanks to Dale Ahlquist

Hilaire Belloc on our Recent Election


The enemy which the Faith now has to meet, and which may be called "The Modern Attack," is a wholesale assault upon the fundamentals of the Faith - upon the very existence of the Faith. And the enemy now advancing against us is increasingly conscious of the fact that there can be no question of neutrality. The forces now opposed to the Faith design to destroy. The battle is henceforward engaged upon a definite line of cleavage, involving the survival or destruction of the Catholic Church. And all - not a portion - of its philosophy.


... I do not entitle the modern attack "anti-Christ" - though in my heart I believe that to be the true term for it: No, I do not give it that name because it would seem for the moment exaggerated. But the name doesn't matter. Whether we call it "The Modern Attack" or "anti-Christ" it is all one; there is a clear issue now joined between the retention of Catholic morals, tradition, and authority on the one side, and the active effort to destroy them on the other. The modern attack will not tolerate us. It will attempt to destroy us. Nor can we tolerate it. We must attempt to destroy it as being the fully equipped and ardent enemy of the Truth by which men live. The duel is to the death.


- from The Great Heresies, 1938

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Theater of the Word's 2008-2009 Season at the John Paul II Theater

OUR MAINSTAGE SEASON BEGINS IN DECEMBER!
at the Cardinal Rigali Center in Shrewsbury 314-849-WORD / http://www.thewordinc.org/




A Morning Star Christmas

This holiday show features the short comedy-mystery “Who Killed Christmas”, the one-act “Making Room”, in which the nativity story is told from the point of view of the Innkeeper’s Wife, and “Suzie at the Mall”, the poetic tale of consumerism gone wild.

December 5, 6, 7 & and Sunday, December 14 at 2:00 pm.



The Quest for Shakespeare

Joseph Pearce, author of Literary Converts and of biographies of Chesterton, Belloc, Oscar Wilde, and more, joins us all the way from England to talk about his upcoming series on EWTN in which he makes the case that the greatest writer of all time was in fact a recusant Catholic. His talk is illustrated by scenes from Shakespeare’s plays acted out on stage!

January 9, 10 at 8:00 pm.



The Passion of Our Lord

Make Lent more profound by attending this unforgettable one-man show, as compiled from the Passion narratives in the four Gospels.

March 20, 21, 22.



Socrates Meets Jesus


Based on the best-seller by Peter Kreeft, this play answers the question – what would happen if Socrates came back to life and went to college in modern America? How would he handle the mushy modern mind? And what would he make of this character everybody’s talking about?

April 17, 18, 19 & 24, 25, 26





For tickets call 1-888-946-3648, or go to our ecommerce site https://thewordinc.c4.ixwebhosting.com/catalog/default.php and click on "Tickets to Shows" in the upper left hand box.

Youtube Clips

Be sure to check out our Youtube Page http://www.youtube.com/theaterofthewordinc where you'll find scenes from our appearances on EWTN's The Apostle of Common Sense as well as new appearances by everyone's favorite ex-seminarian, Stanford Nutting. Plus a few surprises along the way.

TV Updates



Many of you tried to watch Kevin O'Brien's interview with host Marcus Grodi on The Journey Home on September 15. The day before the show was to air, Missouri, where Kevin lives, and Ohio, where Marcus Grodi lives, was hit with the tremendous force of the remnants of what had been another Gulf Coast hurricane - flooding St. Louis and knocking out power to much of central Ohio.






And while Kevin was able to make it to the studios of EWTN in Alabama, Marcus was stranded in Ohio! When a repeat aired that night in which Marcus said, "My guest tonight can't make it due to a family emergency", Kevin received calls from all over the country wondering what had happened - when in fact Kevin was comfortably having dinner with his friend Noah Lett, head of the theology department at the network, while Marcus Grodi sat at home in the dark.






The live interview, in which Kevin will discuss his journey from atheist to Catholic, with acting and producing along the way - is now scheduled for Monday, December 15 at 8 pm Eastern, 7 pm Central.






In addition, EWTN will be taping a Journey Home interview between Marcus Grodi and St. Paul the Apostle - perhaps the most famous of all converts to the Faith! Mr. O'Brien will be playing St. Paul (once Noah Lett and the theology department approves his script), and the interview will air sometime after taping. Stay tuned for updates.

Pro-Life Tour to Wisconsin









Editor's note: This past month two of our actresses, Maria Romine and Erica Sharpe, performed eleven shows in nine days throughout the state of Wisconsin. The show was "Sarah's Secret", a gripping pro-life drama. We asked Maria to tell us about the tour and the show's impact on the young audiences who saw it.






My experience touring with “Sarah’s Secret” this past October in Wisconsin changed my life.




Saturday, October 4, the first day of our tour, we performed “Sarah’s Secret” three times at the Power of Life Conference in Appleton and we discovered the incredible impact that this show has on people. After each performance, several mothers would come up to Erica (my acting partner) and me – sometimes with tears in their eyes - telling us how glad they were that we were taking the show to local high schools while on tour. “This is just the sort of thing our kids need to see,” they would tell us. With each show we did at the conference, the audience at least doubled until our last show had people sitting on the floor – the power of word-of-mouth!




We travelled to Roncalli High School in Manitowoc on Monday. Ben, the Campus Spiritual counselor, was blown away by the first performance of Sarah’s Secret. “You have the kids talking about how abortion affects people!” he exclaimed. Many members of the school’s Pro-Life club attended the next show and were so fired up after seeing it that they said it made them want to do more to champion their cause.




Tuesday, we performed at Lourdes High School in Oshkosh. They have a very enthusiastic counselor there by the name of Kathie , who was beside herself after the first show. The school’s troublemakers were in attendance and she had been prepared to take action if needed, but the students were riveted to their seats during the entire performance. Kathie just glowed with praise about “Sarah’s Secret”.


Wednesday, we visited St. Mary Central High School in Neenah where I pray that the counselors spent time with the students after the show. We were on such a tight schedule that we not able to witness and explain the show after it ended. The show ends very dramatically and we often hear weeping in the audience. By following up with witnessing and explaining options for people who are considering abortion or who have been involved in it, we as actresses are able to steer them in the right direction.







Erica Sharpe (left) and Maria Romine in a scene from "Sarah's Secret"

At St. Thomas Aquinas Academy in Marinette, we encountered a small but mighty school of students. They loved the show. Many of the Junior class helped us strike our equipment and reload our van, which was wonderful after all the driving and performing we had done. One of the students was helping us pack the costumes. “We have ten kids in our family and all of us are adopted,” she said with pride. “You have an awesome Mom and Dad,” I commented. “Yeah, I do,” she said with a smile. “I love them.” What a beautiful pro-life statement that this family has made! I thank God that the birth-mothers of these children chose to give them life – and that the adoptive parents chose to give them a family.




Thursday, we visited Norte Dame Academy in Green Bay . Sister Laura had come to the conference to see the show, so that she could be prepared for the theology students that were scheduled to see it. After each show, Sister Laura would ask questions of the students and the theater would buzz with their answers. She actually had made some observations about the show that I had not even realized. I have filed these away in my head, so that I am aware of which parts of the show do have an effect and why.




There are a couple people that I have failed to mention up until now, but should have been mentioned throughout this journal.






One is our contact from the Power of Life, Sharon. Sharon could have just done her job at the conference and then left us to tour the schools. Instead, she put us under her wing and made sure that the schools we visited were ready for us. She introduced us at many of the schools we performed at, she said the rosary all the while we were performing, she had people praying for us throughout the entire tour, and she shared with us her story of faith. Sharon was definitely our guardian angel for this tour making sure that we had safe passage.






Another guardian angel was Melissa, who took us to the Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Robinson and who showed us how to make knotted string rosaries and who showed us a great time.






The other person I’d like to thank is Karen O’Brien, who was our den mother, our counselor, and for the entire tour- our driver. Karen made sure we took time to rest (even though some of us protested) and she made sure we were on time to the shows no matter where the shows were. I am so thankful we had Karen on this tour and I am certain that we would not have been as successful without her help. In fact, Karen summed up the trip rather well when we were heading home, “ I feel like I am leaving part of my family.” I hope we someday revisit our family in Christ in Wisconsin, but I look forward to meeting the brothers and sisters that I have not even met elsewhere in the country, for our next tours of “Sarah’s Secret”.




The Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Robinson, Wisconsin

New Website

The Theater of the Word Incorporated now has a new brand new website!

Special features include a link to our Youtube page, where you can watch videos of our TV appearances and other treats; a link to our ecommerce site, where tickets to shows and Theater of the Word merchandise can be purchased; lists and descriptions of all of our shows. Check it out!

http://www.thewordinc.org

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

St. Paul Journeys across St. Louis

... from The St. Louis Review ...


August 8, 2008

‘Journey of St. Paul’ to bring apostle to life on local stage

by Jennifer Brinker, Review Staff Writer
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

SAINTLY PRODUCTION - Theater of the Word founder Kevin O'Brien portrays St. Paul in upcoming performances of 'The Journey of St. Paul.'
Want to learn more about St. Paul the Apostle?

Theater of the Word, a local Catholic theater production company, is offering to archdiocesan parishes performances of "The Journey of St. Paul," to coincide with the Year of St. Paul designated by Pope Benedict XVI.

Presentations will be offered to parishes for free, with donations accepted, said Theater of the Word founder Kevin O’Brien.

"Our main focus is to evangelize, to share the word of St. Paul and to let people know who we are," he said.

Theater of the Word launched its inaugural season last year at the Cardinal Rigali Center in Shrewsbury. The company presented five shows, all with a Catholic perspective.

"The Journey of St. Paul" was the company’s final production of the season. It details the story of St. Paul, beginning with a scene from the Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 25, in which St. Paul is a prisoner at Caesarea under the Roman governor Festus.

St. Paul is then brought before King Agrippa and Queen Bernice, where he tells the story of his conversion to Christianity. From the recounting of his miraculous conversion on his journey to Damascus, the cast performs dramatic scenes of healings, shipwrecks, stonings and miracles.

"It shows how real the Church still is and how real it was and the kind of effort and sacrifice that went along in the beginning to establish the Church after the Resurrection," said O’Brien.

The Church is currently celebrating the Year of St. Paul to

mark the approximate 2,000th anniversary of the saint’s birth. The year began June 28, the eve of Sts. Peter and Paul, and will continue through June 29, 2009.

Theater of the Word also has performed "The Journey of St. Paul" in various places around the country this summer, including the Archdiocese of Hartford, Conn., and Archdiocese of Cincinnati. It also has been performed for EWTN and will be featured in a series O’Brien is producing for the Catholic television network in 2009.

Response to the show has been overwhelming, he said.

"People tell us how much it moves them and it makes St. Paul seem more real to them." Others have said how they have enjoyed hearing "the words of Scripture performed. Most of the dialogue is taken from the Book of Acts and Paul’s epistles."

O’Brien said about a dozen archdiocesan parishes already have booked performances later this year.

"Parishes seem very interested in doing something to commemorate the Year of St. Paul," he noted. "I think the Holy Spirit is at work, and the Holy Father was inspired to make this the Pauline Year. People in general are wanting to know more about the great apostle."

Performances will be offered to parishes throughout the year, but O’Brien said that the company’s schedule will become tighter once its second season kicks off in late October at the Cardinal Rigali Center.

For more information on Theater of the Word or to Book a performance of "The Journey of St. Paul," call (314) 849-WORD (9673).

Several archdiocesan parishes to host 'Journey of St. Paul' The following parishes have scheduled 'The Journey of St. Paul.' They are:

St. Cletus, 2705 Zumbehl Road in St. Charles, 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 24;

St. Elizabeth of Hungary, 1420 S. Sappington Road in Crestwood, 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 5;

Immaculate Conception, 2300 Church Road in Arnold, 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 6;

St. Catherine Laboure, 9740 Sappington Road in Sappington, 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 10;

St. Joseph, 106 N. Meramec Ave. in Clayton, noon, Sunday, Sept. 14;

St. Clement of Rome, 1510 Bopp Road in Des Peres, 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 17;

St. Anthony, 3009 High Ridge Blvd. in High Ridge, 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 20;

Sts. Teresa and Bridget, 3636 North Market St. in North St. Louis, noon Sunday, Sept. 21;

Our Lady of the Rosary, 11725 Bellefontaine Road in Spanish Lake, 7 p.m., Monday, Sept. 22;

St. Martin of Tours, 610 W. Ripa Ave. in Lemay, 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 24;

St. Ann, 7851 Highway YY in Clover Bottom, 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 12;

St. Patrick, 405 S. Church St. in Wentzville, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 18;

Holy Trinity, 3500 St. Luke Lane in St. Ann, 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 1;

Holy Name of Jesus, 10235 Ashbrook Drive in Bissell Hills, 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 2;

Sacred Heart, 17 Ann Ave. in Valley Park, 7 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 16;

St. Paul, 1223 Church Road in St. Paul, 7 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 25, 2009;

Immaculate Conception, 7701 Highway N in Dardenne Prairie, 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 29, 2009.


Show dates and times are subject to change. There is no admission charge. A freewill offering will be accepted after each show to support the ministry of Theater of the Word. For more information, call (314) 849-WORD (9673).

Silent Murder

My son Colin O'Brien's pro-life video Silent Murder was recently featured on the Video Room of InsideCatholic.com . Go to http://insidecatholic.com/Joomla/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1154 and scroll down to the Aug. 27 entry - or just watch below.



His video apparently caused quite a stir among the judges in the Archdiocese of San Francisco's film festival. Watch to see why!

Kevin O'Brien Featured on "The Journey Home"

Be sure to watch EWTN at 8:00 pm Eastern, 7:00 pm Central on Monday, September 15, 2008 as Theater of the Word founder Kevin O'Brien will be interviewed live by The Jounrey Home host Marcus Grodi (pictured above).

The Journey Home is one of the best shows on EWTN. Kevin will tell the story of his faith journey - from atheism to paganism to Lutheranism to Episcopalianism to the Catholic Church. It's an amazing story, dramatic in more ways than one, in which theater and the Holy Spirit play the most crucial of roles.

Viewers may call or email questions during the broadcast.

The Journey Home airs live on Monday nights, and is repeated Tuesdays at midnight and 9:00 am Central, Wednesdays at noon Central and Saturdays at 10:00 pm Central.





Thursday, August 28, 2008

More Adventures at EWTN

(Right: Dale Ahlquist on set for the fifth season of The Apostle of Common Sense. Note the new set piece – the toy theater in the background.)

I had originally posted a neat article about this, but Gilbert Magazine wants to publish it, so for now we'll just let the pictures speak (mostly ) for themselves. I'll link to http://www.gilbertmagazine.com/ when the article's published - or you can subscribe to the printed version at http://www.chesterton.org/






Left: Frank C. Turner and I dramatized a scene from The Ball and the Cross in which I portrayed Professor Lucifer and Frank the monk Michael. Filmed before a green screen, the savvy technicians made us look like we were in a spaceship hovering above London, as the photo of the studio monitor below illustrates.






The next shot shows the segment “Religion Today”. From left to right you’ll spot Dale Ahlquist as host; Frank C. Turner as Dr. Thaddeus Gorgonus of the University of Northern Southern; me as Stanford Nutting, the liberal ex-seminarian; Ashley Ahlquist as the feminist theologian Dr. Wilhemina Fritz; and Eric Johnson as Dr. Kaufmann Walterhosen. As usual before the filming I suggested to Dale that I could play all the parts. “You can’t play the feminist, Kevin,” he replied, “You don’t look enough like a man.”



Below left you see ex-seminarian Stanford Nutting in action in the classroom at the junior college, where he’s an adjunct, and where he teaches his favorite class, Religion in the Modern World.


Season Five will also see another segment of “Ask Mr. Chesterton” …



… in which audience members, portrayed by actors grill our buddy Gilbert. And a new feature, “Chesterton’s Toy Theater”, in which we see one of GKC’s toy theater plays come to life.



We spent the second week of our adventure at Mother Angelica’s shrine in Hanceville filming an episode for my series, The Theater of the Word Incorporated. The episode is a kind of movie version of the Father Brown story “The Honor of Israel Gow”, adapted for the screen by Dale with a little help from me and Michael Masny our producer at EWTN. The pictures below will give the reader a small taste of how good this episode is going to be.




(Left: Frank C. Turner as Israel Gow, the prime suspect.)



(Below right: Dale Ahlquist as Archibald Ogilvie, the victim.)



(Left: Kevin O’Brien as Father Brown; Julian Ahlquist as Flambeau.)





We returned to the studios in Irondale on Friday and filmed an episode of my series in which dozens of people invade Dale’s set to watch The Surprise, to Dale’s annoyance and dismay.



Meanwhile, all you'll have to do to see these shows on EWTN is wait twelve to fourteen months for the editing and post-production to be complete. And another six months after that for the DVDs to be released.

So don't touch that dial!!!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Kevin Interviews a Giant Chicken



Yes, that's exactly what I did.

But who's beneath the chicken mask? To find that out you'll have to tune in tomorrow ... actually in September of 2009 as we premiere our new series THE THEATER OF THE WORD INCORPORATED on EWTN. Meanwhile, watch Kevin O'Brien and fellow actors on THE APOSTLE OF COMMON SENSE on EWTN every Sunday night at 9 pm Eastern, 8 pm Central.

And if you guess who's beneath the mask, you'll win a FREE DVD of THE EWTN THEATER OF THE WORD series, once it's released! Just leave a comment below ...

Catholic Answers - The Soul of an Actor



Kevin recently appeared on the nationwide radio call-in show "Catholic Answers" hosted by Jerry Usher.

To listen to Kevin's interview, click here and select how you'd like to listen at the bottom of the page.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Seussical Jr.


May 30, 2008

‘Seussical’ production has a pro-life message

by Jennifer Brinker, Review Staff Writer

(from the May 30, 2008 issue of "The St. Louis Review")
-------------------------------------------------------


Theater of the Word Inc. is presenting "Seussical Jr." next month, to be performed by youths from the St. Louis Catholic Homeschool Association.

The two-act play, based on several stories from popular children’s author Theodor Seuss Geisel (who wrote as "Dr. Seuss"), will be performed 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, June 13 and 14, at the Cardinal Rigali Center, 20 Archbishop May Drive in Shrewsbury.

Ticket sales from the performances will benefit Theater of the Word, a local theater company founded last year that places a focus on productions with a Catholic perspective. Seventeen-year-old homeschool student Amalie Cobb of St. Joseph Parish in Cottleville is directing the cast of nearly 20 junior high-age students who are part of the homeschool association’s Jr. Drama Class. The class is an extracurricular activity for the association’s students.

"Seussical" centers on Horton the elephant and his endeavors to protect the people of Whoville, who live on a tiny speck of dust that he’s discovered. He is ridiculed by the others living in the Jungle of Nool, with the exception of a bird, Gertrude McFuzz, who begins to believe him. The speck, which Horton had placed on a clover for protection, is stolen by a band of monkeys called the Wickersham Brothers. Along Horton’s journey to find the clover, he is convinced by another bird, Mayzie LaBird, to give up his search and instead sit on the egg she is nesting while she goes away on a vacation.

Eventually, Horton learns that the egg is doomed to be motherless, so he takes on the responsibility of nurturing the egg himself. He is eventually reunited with Gertrude, who finds the clover.

Amalie Cobb noted that the main characters of "Seussical" are pushed to "mature past a point of insecurity ... and show that they are ready to take care of themselves and take care of others."

Reflecting on the play’s pro-life theme, Kevin O’Brien, founder and president of the Theater of the Word, noted that one of the lines from a "Horton Hears a Who" on the "Seussical" soundtrack is, "A person’s a person no matter how small."

O’Brien noted that "any dramatic art form that is written from a Catholic or pro-life perspective will help people see a point of view better." Those in the audience "certainly side with Horton and decide he’s got to save these people. If you can make that leap imaginatively ... then maybe you can make that leap when making real-life decisions on abortion and so forth."

O’Brien was introduced to the homeschool association when he was invited to see their first production of "Seussical" in April at St. John Bosco in Creve Coeur. He also was there to give a presentation about his company’s mission and promote performances from its inaugural season.

"I was especially impressed that they put it together all on their own," he said, complimenting Amalie on her ability to "corral such a large group and focus them.

"The kids were great, and I was just inspired after I saw it. These kids have had no training — they’re doing it because they love doing it. So we wanted to team up with them in some way."

"Seussical" is the third directorial effort for Amalie, who also has overseen a short one-act play and "Alice in Wonderland." Her mother, Lori Cobb, supervisor of the junior drama class, noted that her daughter also oversaw the choreography for "Seussical."

"I have definitely found that directing is a blessing," said Amalie. "Just being able to work with this cast and teach them how to use the skills that God has given them to perform a play ... has definitely been a blessing for me."

After the group’s first performance of "Seussical" in April, Lori Cobb said her daughter experienced a sense of detachment from the performance.

"We got home and Amalie said, ‘I kind of feel like it wasn’t mine.’ I told her, it’s not about her, it’s not about the play, it’s about God."

"Watching her develop and watching God refine her in her leadership skills and soften her in her directorial skills, just watching the cast and her respond to each other both in trust and development has been incredibly inspirational," said Lori Cobb.

Tickets for "Seussical" are $10 for adults and $5 for ages 12 and younger. Tickets can be purchased at the door or in advance by calling Theater of the Word at (314) 849-WORD (9673).

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Faith is in the Air
















Kevin writes from Alabama ...

My friends, do you ever wonder if you're doing the right thing, if your faith is in vain, if God is either absent or non-existent, if placing your trust in Him would be a foolish thing to do?


If so, then spend a week or so at the studios of EWTN in Birmingham, as my actors and I are doing this week. This network was begun by a spunky nun with $300 in her pocket and nothing but faith in God. Deacon Bill tells me that it costs over $3 million a month to run the network, and that this money is never there when the month begins. It comes from donors, and it runs a 320 employee operation that reaches over 200 million homes worldwide - an operation that in true Franciscan spirit, relies entirely on God's providence.
















It is an utter trust in God that has made this place work. A trust that God will do something that from the outside seems impossible, that if it were something done by men alone and for men alone would be vain and merely self-serving.

But since this is done for the sake of God, in a spirit of love and sacrifice, it all works - and everyone you meet at these studios is there for reasons beyond himself, and every other one has a miracle that he's experienced or witnessed; and this place makes you say - "How these Christians love one another!"

This is how the Church should be.



Not to mention that EWTN has been the bulwark against the decay that has spread in modern religion, the false doctrine of Christ without the Cross, the dreadful message of vacuity and despair and self-congratulatory narcissim that is all around us, in the very air we breathe.



But also in that same air are the beams of truth sent from where I now am in Irondale worldwide, the beams of the satellite feed that feed our faltering faith.

Kevin's New Series


So we all know from the above post that Kevin's going to be on live nation-wide TV Wednesday night. But what's Kevin doing at EWTN in the first place?

Kevin O'Brien will be hosting a 13-part anthology series on Christian drama, and interviewing the actors and celebrities who will be featured in the series. The episode line-up is scheduled to run as follows:


1. INTRO EPISODE - Kevin speaks about his career and how acting helped him to discover the Holy Spirit working in his life. Kevin also interviews Lola Falana, Fr. John Hogan, and a number of the actors who will be featured in the series.

2. THE JOURNEY OF ST. PAUL - Kevin and his cast perform a dramatic adaptation of the life of the Apostle to the Gentiles.

3. ALESSANDRO - Jeremy Stanbary performs his one-man show on the conversion of the man who murdered St. Maria Goretti.

4. THE MORNING STAR PLAYERS - Mary LaHood and Elizabeth Bauer perform their two one-act plays "Sarah's Secret" and "Rachel - Lost and Found".

5. THE BIBLICAL TRILOGY I - KING DAVID - Kevin stars as the hero of the Old Testament.

6. THE BIBLICAL TRILOGY II - THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MARK - Richard Garey performs the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.

7. THE BIBLICAL TRILOGY III - THE PASSION NARRATIVE - Kevin's one-man show, taken from the four Gospel accounts of the Passion and Resurrection.

8. THE HONOR OF ISRAEL GOW - Kevin stars as Father Brown, G K Chesterton's crime-solving cleric, in this chilling mystery.

9. OLD THUNDER - AN EVENING WITH HILAIRE BELLOC - Kevin's one-man show as the bombastic and unforgetable writer who thunders across the screen.

10. LOLEK I - Jeremy Stanbary as the young John Paul II.

11. LOLEK II - Part Two of Jeremy's one-man play on the life of John Paul II.

12. A MORNING STAR CHRISTMAS - This episode features Kevin playing a dozen different characters in "Who Killed Christmas" and Mary LaHood and Elizabeth Bauer presenting Kevin's play "Making Room - the Story of the Innkeeper's Wife".

13. AT THE (EWTN-MADE-FOR-TV) MOVIES - In the conclusion to our first season, Kevin O'Brien and Dale Ahlquist critique the TV adaptation of Chesterton's "The Surprise". And Kevin interviews himself (dressed in a chicken suit).



Sounds like a great series, right? Can't wait to watch, right? Want to know when it's on???

Well, stay tuned. THE THEATER OF THE WORD INCORPORATED is expected to air September of 2009. That's a ways off, but in the meantime ... don't touch that dial!

Kevin O'Brien on EWTN Live



Kevin O'Brien, founder and creative director of the Theater of the Word Incorporated, will be interviewed by Father Mitch Pacwa on "EWTN Live" on Wednesday, May 21 at 7:00 pm Central, 8:00 pm Eastern & Pacific.

"EWTN Live" is the Eternal Word Television Network's most popular show. Hosted by Father Mitch Pacwa, the hour-long program will feature an in-depth interview with Kevin on his career, the interplay between faith and the performing arts, and on the shows that are being offered by the Theater of the Word.

Kevin will also field live calls from viewers and questions from the studio audience.

Be sure to watch this Wedensday, May 21 at 8 Eastern, 7 Central! Or click here for more info. The show is repeated on Thursday at 1 am Eastern / midnight Central (late Wed. night); also on Thursday at 9 am Eastern / 8 am Central & on Sunday, May 25 at 4 am Eastern / 3 am Central.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Smallest of All a Huge Success
















The Smallest of All Brought to Stage in St. Louis

by Rose DeCaro of the Theater of the Word Staff

Back row l-r: John Wolbers (The Abbe), Frank Zito (Francois), Kevin O'Brien (Louis), Tom Leith (Jacomet). Front row l-r: Jasmin Robles (Toinette), Maria Romine (Louise), Molly Comer (Bernadette), Kerry O'Brien (Jeanne).

Last month, the actors of Theater of the Word, Incorporated performed The Smallest of All at the John Paul II Theater in St. Louis, MO. The Smallest of All tells the story of St. Bernadette and the apparition of Our Lady of Lourdes.

The show opens with a scene depicting the Souboreaux Family and the struggle they have, especially with poverty. The audience sees how Bernadette was uneducated and ill because of her family’s financial hardship. They also meet other characters in the story who have hardened hearts- an atheist, a proud priest, a selfish child, a mean soldier, and even members of Bernadette’s family. One day while Bernadette is working outside, she receives an apparition from Our lady of Lourdes. This experience with Our Lady strengthens Bernadette, who then becomes an inspiration of faith and love to others around her. The audience sees the conversion of the atheist, the proud priest learns humility, the selfish child tries to cultivate virtue, and the soldier learn charity.

Kevin O’Brien, the director said, “It was indeed a blessing for all of us to be involved in this production.”

The author of the play, a nun named Mother Mary Francis, was a native of St. Louis and a personal friend of Archbishop Raymond Burke. The Archbishop attended a dress rehearsal of the show and enjoyed it immensely.

Over 500 people in St. Louis attended the four performances of The Smallest of All. The last show on Sunday, February 24 was followed by a sold out fundraising dinner entitled “Reclaiming the Arts.” Speaker and supporter Fr. Joseph Fessio of Ignatius Press recounted how Theater of the Word began and the important role it will play in evangelization.

The next main stage show in St. Louis will be The Journey of St. Paul April 25, 26, and 27. To order tickets, please call 1-888-840-WORD.

Adventures in Birmingham









The Opportunity

In January of this year the cast of The Surprise, as staged at last year’s conference, were called together to perform the play at EWTN in Birmingham, for recording and broadcast at a future date. We also performed a few dramatic vignettes for season four of The Apostle of Common Sense, which will air this fall.







The Cast of Characters

First, to set the stage, a word or two about our cast of characters, which included almost every member of the Ahlquist family – Dale’s son Julian as the King, his daughter Ashley as the Princess, his wife Laura as our costume mistress and stage manager, and Dale’s own sorry self as the Inept Guard, who in Act Two adds Inebriation to his Ineptness. In addition, we had Jeremy Stanbary of Epiphany Studios in St. Paul, who played the Author; Deacon Nathan Allen as the Friar; Catherine Trojack as Maria; and Mark Shea of the blog Catholic and Enjoying It as the Captain (and also as Innocent Smith in many of our scenes from The Apostle of Common Sense). Chuck Chalberg later joined us as GKC himself. And I did my bit as The Poet in The Surprise, and was just as excited to play a host of character parts in serveral episodes of The Apostle of Common Sense – including Clarence Darrow, Charles Dickens, Father Brown, a Chinese Mystic, a British Twit, an Ex-Seminarian, and others.





(Back row l-r: Jeremy Stanbary, Deacon Nathan Allen, Julian Ahlquist, Kevin O'Brien, Mark Shea. Seated l-r: Laura Ahlquist, Catherine Trojack, Lauara Ahlquist, Dale Ahlquist.)




We Gather Together



Almost all of us arrived on Tuesday, January 9 and gathered in one of the two houses where EWTN was putting us up (or is it “putting up with us”?). On this first night, Dale began the great tradition of “family prayer”. The cast would all say together a decade of the Rosary and add our intentions. Tonight we prayed the Nativity of Our Lord, because, I think, we are aware that on some level we are continuing the task of Incarnation. As we try to flesh out the words of Chesterton - as we, as all actors, try to bring words to bear on stage - we are continuing the great task of bearing God’s Word to others, thanks to this miraculous network.



What Sustained Us



On Wednesday, January 10, the filming began at 8:30 am, but we were all up at 6:30 to make it to Holy Mass, which is celebrated and televised every morning from the chapel beside the studio. Going to daily Mass was Dale’s idea and while it seemed like a good idea when he suggested it, it didn’t feel so hot when we crawled out of bed at 6 am every morning.

But praise God! This entire week, Masses were being celebrated by Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life (http://www.priestsforlife.com/), the most driven and passionate worker of our time. His work, which is serious and exhaustive for the pro-life cause, put our silly efforts at “dress up” to shame. It was a good and humbling perspective for us throughout the week


Suffering for Art


On Thursday, January 11 Deacon Bill, chairman of the board of EWTN, visits with us for breakfast. “Every month, we need 2.4 million dollars to keep this network afloat,” he tells us. “And every month, we start with almost nothing in the bank. We have to rely entirely on donations.” In that sense, they're still struggling Franciscans, not knowing where their next meal comes from. This is also the way Dale Ahlquist and the American Chesterton Society operates, the way Mark Shea, free lance Catholic apologist operates, the way so many of us operate. From such straits and despite temptations to anxiety and despair, Our Lord’s servants learn to rely entirely on Him and the charity of our neighbors for their daily bread. Deacon Bill then goes on to tell us about Mother Angelica and her condition. “It's Mother Angelica's suffering that is keeping this network going,” he says. “Everybody associated with Mother and the monastery suffers in some way.” Then he looks at us with a twinkle in his eye. “Welcome to the club!” he says.

This day is certainly marked by a kind of suffering - frustration. I am so used to acting on stage that this acting for the camera is maddening. Making a movie, you talk for long periods of time to your fellow actors and to the crew as you stand about waiting, then you act a little, but not too loud, and maybe for a minute or less, and then the camera stops and then they start again and you do your big monologue and you know you didn't do it that well, and they say, “Great! We'll go with that,” and you've lost the chance to do it again, and what you've just done, which certainly felt below par and may look even worse, will last for all time on tape and DVD.

Moments of eternity that we aim at as best we can while floating on an ocean of the mundane. Kind of like life.

At night we play Charades, and I am confident in saying that this is the only group of people on earth who would act out charade clues to “Rerum Novarum” and The Simarillion.


Acting Out Common Sense

SATURDAY, JANUARY 13. Having wrapped up The Surprise on Friday, today we begin filming bits for Dale's fourth season of The Apostle of Common Sense, many of which are filmed as Man on the Street interviews on location at a local mall. “Are you making a COMMERICAL????” a thrilled young shopper asks, seeing the cameras. “No, it's something for EWTN,” one of us tells her. “Oh,” she says, and turns away.


Dale buys us dinner at a barbecue place and our journey continues at this way-stop that feels more like a destination than an inn. I soak in the jokes, the discussions on theology, on history, on the Church Fathers - the love that fills the very air we breathe. This week has been more like the title of another Chesterton play – this week has been Magic.


The Captive Audience

SUNDAY, JANUARY 14. Today we make our pilgrimage to the Shrine of the Most Belssed Sacrament near Hanceville, Alabama, a beautiful place where Mother Angelica and the nuns live. We end up spending two hours at a truck stop waiting for breakfast, but as Chesterton said, “An inconvenience is an adventure wrongly considered.”


At the Shrine, Dale gives a fine talk on Chesterton, but in this case the audience is better than the performer. The sisters sit behind a grate as Dale and the rest of us sit on the other side, their faces beaming, radiant with joy. They are filled with vitality, laughing at all of Dale's bad jokes, at all of Chesterton's best lines, overflowing with enthusiasm and joy. These nuns are young, beautiful, sweet, devoted to Our Lord and Our Lady, and shining forth, in the words of Mother Mary Francis, their “right to be merry”.

(BELOW: Dale with his captive adience.)






At night we find a local fish restaurant at which, in the grand Southern tradition, “everything is fried”. Dale is insistent upon avoiding chain outlets and supporting the Distributist ideal, even when it leads to high cholesterol.


Civilization Goes Home / The Discontents Remain



TUESDAY, WEDNESDAY, & THURSDAY & FRIDAY, JANUARY 16 - 19. Tuesday morning most of the cast left, leaving behind a small contingent of us to carry on – Dale, Mark and I, with Chuck joining us Wednesday morning.

We keep having fun, but with the women all gone, things get sloppy and we end up drinking a lot more at night. Chuck adds some good material, but I'm sorry to say that debates that once were lively and inspiring, debates that were about art and beauty and history and heaven and hell and everything in between have now degenerated to -

DALE: Mark, turn the TV off.


MARK: Shut up.

But we do our best. And we wrap up all the scenes for Season Four of The Apostle of Common Sense along the way.At one point in the week, Dale, Mark Shea and I while passing through the lobby of EWTN see the feeds on several monitors on the wall. We see on these monitors the following: Nathan Allen’s appearance on The Journey Home being rebroadcast on the satellite to the Pacific Rim, Chesterton's debate with Shaw from Season Three of The Apostle of Common Sense being beamed via satellite feed to Europe, and Dale's appearance on EWTN Live being replayed by satellite to Africa and India.

“We've taken over the world!” Dale exclaims, throwing out his arms.Well, almost. At least we took over the studios of EWTN for ten blessed days, and may the Holy Spirit bless our efforts. May The Surprise and the fourth season of The Apostle of Common Sense continue to spread the words of our man Gilbert, who himself was spreading the only Word worth hearing.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Journey of St. Paul


Journey with Paul from his early hatred and persecution of the Church through his miraculous conversion and through his years of fighting for the Faith as he battles shipwrecks, imprisonments, stonings and privations - all for the sake of the salvation of souls. This thrilling show will make you feel as if you've met the man himself - the most thrilling, outspoken, and courageous of the apostles. It's an encounter you won't want to miss!

We will be performing this show on Wednesday, August 16 in Augusta, Michigan at St. Ann Catholic Church; the weekend of April 25, 26, and 27 at the John Paul II Theater at the Cardinal Rigali Center in St. Louis, Missouri; the weekend of May 2, 3, and 4 for the Archdiocese of Hartford, Connecticut; and Sunday, June 29 at Immaculate Heart of Mary in New Melle, Missouri.

For more information click here for our calendar, with links to each venue.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Quest for Shakespare

Last week our actors Kevin O'Brien, Julian Ahlquist and Molly Comer headed down to the studios of EWTN in Birmingham, Alabama to film scenes for The Quest for Shakespeare, a new 13 part series which will be hosted by Shakespearian scholar and author Joseph Pearce.

Joseph makes a compelling case for Shakespeare's Catholicism, and our actors help demonstrate this by performing several scenes from the bard's plays as well as by portraying various historical figures who knew Shakespeare, who studied him, or who were effected by the persecutions of the Elizabethan monarchy.

The series is scheduled to premiere in January of 2009, and will be available on DVD as well.

"Working at EWTN is a tremendous experience," O'Brien notes. "It's a miraculous place, and everyone there is dedicated to his or her faith in a remarkable way."

O'Brien and his actors played over sixty different characters in 56 scenes between them, including scenes from King Lear, Hamlet, As You Like It, Richard II and more. Watch for The Quest for Shakespeare on EWTN!

Smallest of All



The Smallest of All is the fourth mainstage production of the Theater of the Word Incorporated.

The play is by St. Louisan Mother Mary Francis, who served as abbess of Our Lady of Guadalupe Monastery in Roswell, New Mexico for many years until her death in 2006 on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.

This play is a profound look at the effects of holiness upon the hearts and minds of those who encounter it. It is a masterpiece of dramatic writing - charming and insightful and filled with a keen understanding of human nature and how the love of Our Lady and the grace of Our Lord can work miraculous changes even in the most miserable of men.

Archbishop Raymond Burke has been kind enough to say, "I express my profound gratitude to Theater of the Word Incorporated for producing this play in honor of the 150th anniversary of Our Lady's apparitions at Lourdes." We will be staging a command performance for the archbishop sometime in March.

We are offering four performances to the general public - 2 pm matinees Sunday Feb. 17 and Sunday Feb. 24; and 8 pm evening performances Friday & Saturday Feb. 22 & 23. Tickets are $15 per person, with group discounts available. Our Feb. 24 performance features a dinner along with a lecture by Father Joseph Fessio (see below). Call 1-888-840-WORD for more info and to purchase tickets.

Dinner Theater Fundraiser with Father Fessio



The Theater of the Word Incorporated presents
The Smallest of All by Mother Mary Francis, along with dinner and lecture by Father Joseph Fessio, founder of Ignatius Press.



For more information, click
here