Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

As we celebrate the 175th Anniversary of the Archdiocese, we look back… on July 23, 1976 when Archbishop Henry J. O'Brien passed away.
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ayli-bridge363-camargoChristian Camargo (Photo by Joan Marcus, 2010)

NEW YORK – The Bridge Project, director Sam Mendes’s admirable effort that unites the finest American and British actors to tackle the best in classical theater, is back for a second season at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Harvey Theatre. Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” is its first show of the season.

The other is “The Tempest,” which I haven’t seen yet.

Mr. Mendes has an iconoclastic take on “As You Like It,” one of Shakespeare’s most treasured and well-known comedies.

Taking a cue from the text, Mr. Mendes begins the play darkly – the play’s imagery is full of cold, desolate, wintry allusions – and the actions that take place in the court of usurper Duke Frederick are as appalling and cruel as Elsinore in “Hamlet.” Orlando (Christian Camargo), who will eventually emerge as the play’s hero, is the son of the Duke’s banished brother; he unfairly gets thrown out of court himself. Rosalind (Juliet Rylance), one of Shakespeare’s most delightful creations, is also forced to flee,  disguised as a man she names Ganymede.

Mr. Mendes bravely confronts all of these nefarious goings-on seriously, only letting the sun shine in (and the play’s comedy fly) in Act Two, when everyone finally meets up in the dappled Forest of Arden. Although his perspective is interesting, it doesn’t quite work. As adventuresome as Mr. Mendes is, this “As You Like It” emerges slightly askew: a tragedy in Act One; a comedy in Act Two.

Once we do get to Arden, the comedy and humanity of the play, as well as the performances of the actors, find their footing. Ms. Rylance’s is a lyrical delight in both of her incarnations as Rosalind and Ganymede.

Mr. Camargo’s Orlando takes longer to grow on you. At first he seems like he is playing Hamlet, which he did splendidly last season at Theater for New Audiences. Thomas Sadoski, one of our best young American actors, is superb as Touchstone, one of Shakespeare’s great clowns; and the brilliant British actor Stephen Dillane brings his own special quality to that “melancholy gentleman” Jaques. Perhaps the actor having the most fun is Alvin Epstein, who is in his 80s and plays two roles, Adam, a sober servant; and Sir Oliver Martext, a hilarious country vicar.

It could be guessed that Mr. Mendes decided to pair “As You Like It” and “The Tempest” because both deal with similar themes of reconciliation and retribution. In any case, I am curious to see what he does with “The Tempest.”

“As You Like It” and “The Tempest” play in repertory at BAM through March 13 before taking off on a six-month international tour.

alertAt the Spring Assembly of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Joseph Tobin suggested that a delegation ofbishops go to the border to see for themselves what was happening to newly arrived immigrants, families and children. On July 1 and 2, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, and five other bishops conducted a pastoral visit to the diocese of Brownsville, Texas. Stops included Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle with the community, a visit to anHHS/OBR Shelter and Mass for the families there, a visit to the Customs and Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, TX, and a press conference at the end of their visit. Catholic News Service accompanied the bishops on their border trip. 

  1. Backgrounder and analysis of the bishops’ trip to the border: Cardinal DiNardo told CNS, “You cannot look at immigration as an abstraction when you meet” the people behind the issue.
  2. At final press conference, Cardinal Daniel Dinardo said the church was willing to be part of any conversation to find humane solutions because even a policy of detaining families together in facilities caused “concern.”
  3. Bishops serve soup to immigrant families at a center run by Catholic Charities and listen to their stories. Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera said he found hope in hearing the people in the room talk about what’s ahead. They didn’t speak of making money but of finding safety for their children, he said, driven by “the most basic instinct to protect your family.”
  4. At an opening Mass he Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine near McAllen, Texas, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville told Massgoers, “The bishops are visiting here so they can stop and look and talk to people and understand, especially the suffering of many who are amongst us,”

A delegation of U.S. bishops goes on a fact-finding mission at the U.S.-Mexican border to learn more about Central American immigration detention.

Following their visit to an immigrant detention center, U.S. bishops said they are even more determined to call on Congress for comprehensive immigration reform.