Who will protect the victims of those who hide behind the confessional? What is to be their penance?
Penance by Sara Jarrold
Staged Reading Produced by Megan J Riedl
Ballarat Trades Hall 27 October 2019
Directed by Megan J Riedl
Performed by Damien Pree, Sarah Spaven, Tim Harris, Ryan Tracey and Craig Coulson.
Penance, by Sara Jarrold, is a play “of exquisite relevance to the problem of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church today.” It has been described as “absorbing, thought provoking”, “intense and sensitive” and with a “brilliant twist”.
I’ve always been interested in stories which shine a light on the untold, shameful or hidden side of our society. I am a firm believer in live performance as a powerful medium for changing minds and addressing social justice issues.
The universal themes in the play really spoke to me. I think this text has more to say about humanity and power and is not simply a story about the abuses which occurred within the Catholic Church. At the centre of the text is the powerlessness of individuals against the institution and the risk that whistle-blowers take to themselves in order to have victims stories heard and needs met. These things happen in so many situations across the world – in families, in business and in institutions like the Catholic Church.
Sara’s passion for this story and its potential to be a vehicle for healing within the Ballarat and wider communities is so genuine and comes from a caring place, and I was honoured that she trusted me to deliver it. I knew I could gather a great cast to do her text proud and love to be able to give opportunities to local theatre-makers to be a part of new and challenging work for the stage.
$630 of proceeds from the performance was donated to the Ballarat Victims’ Memorial Fund.
The play reading was followed by a Q & A forum, featuring the writer, direct, actors and Maureen Hatcher (LOUD fence), hosted by Tara Poole (Coordinator Creative City, City of Ballarat).