Richmond Catholic Theatre group to perform at World Youth Day, possibly in front of Pope Francis
Five members of the Richmond Catholic Theatre rehearsed earlier this week in a nearly empty Saint Benedict Catholic School. The crowd was about 3 million fewer than the one they’ll be performing for at the end of the month.
The seven-person cast, made up of young adults, will perform “The Jeweler’s Shop: A Meditation on the Sacrament of Matrimony, Passing on Occasion into a Drama,” which was written by Pope John Paul II.
In its first formal rehearsal, the group focused first on staying loose — reciting popular fairy tales while tossing a baseball in a circle. Then they took to rehearsing the actual play in the empty library and bare hallways of the school.
The selection came as a surprise to Christine and Richard Arena, the husband and wife who founded Richmond Catholic Theatre. While the group was less than six months old at the time, Richard Arena had the thought of applying and seeing what would happen.
They found out June 10 — nine days before their one-year anniversary — that they were chosen to perform. Now, with little time to prepare, it’s full steam ahead to get ready for the performances in Poland.
The three-act play was written in 1960 by Pope John Paul II, who then went by his birth name, Karol Wojtyla. It was written as part of Poland’s underground theater and helps better understand the late pope’s theology, Christine Arena said. The play focuses on marriage and doesn’t require a set.
Katie Yankoski, 28, also of Richmond, added that she’s not nervous of the audience because she’s in youth ministry, but is out of her comfort zone as she normally doesn’t do theater productions like “The Jeweler’s Shop.”