Play to benefit two great causes

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Three pompiers (firemen) behold the destruction inside Notre Dame Cathedral after the April 2019 fire.

By Ludovic McMurphy

A new production of Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame is playing in Sydney this October and is being staged by Artes Christi specifically in support of the restoration of Notre Dame Paris and the Aid to the Church in Need Sri Lanka Appeal.

Directed by internationally acclaimed actor and writer Donald Macdonald, the play stars Carl Di Terlizzi in the title role, Mairead McCaughan as Esmerelda and Paul Kennedy as Claude Frollo alongside a cast and crew of more than 30 people.

“This is one of the world’s great stories – perhaps France’s most famous novel – and at the centre of it all is Notre Dame Cathedral Paris,” commented the play’s director Donald Macdonald.

“This is a beautiful and rarely told story of characters in and around Notre Dame and it’s an honour for Artes Christi to be able to present this play, particularly at this important time.”

A veteran actor on stage and screen in Australia and the UK, Donald Macdonald has been directing for Artes Christi since his landmark 2002 production A Man for All Seasons, with other subsequent shows including The Jeweller’s Shop by Pope St John Paul II, Shadowlands, Saints Alive and most recently Murder in the Cathedral.

Donald also performed in the WYD08 Stations of the Cross as Pontius Pilate, starred as Alexander MacKillop in the 2010 musical and as Merlin in Camelot in 2017.  Donald has also toured his one-man play The Gospel of St John across Australia and internationally including to London, New York and to the Edinburgh Festival in 2012.

“At the beginning and end of Holy Week this year, the world was shocked by two terrible tragedies – the extraordinary fire which almost destroyed Notre Dame on the Monday and then the terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday where 259 people were killed,” commented Anthony McCarthy, the producer of the play and president of Artes Christi.

Australia’s Sri Lankan community gathers at a candlelight vigil outside St Mary’s Cathedral on Friday evening 26 April 2019. Photo: Alphonsus Fok

“The shocking fire in Paris and the global outpouring of grief and support was clear proof of how much France and indeed the whole world loves Notre Dame.  And this is a testimony to the extraordinary love people can have for the Church’s artistic beauty,” he said.

“This play is a small but significant way for Artes Christi and all Australians to offer their support not just for the rebuild of Notre Dame Paris but also for the countless families so deeply impacted by the tragedy which happened in Sri Lanka just a few dates later.”

The Hunchback of Notre Dame runs from 4-20 October at the 1880 Hall, 235 Devonshire St, Surry Hills.  The play is supporting the restoration of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and the Aid to the Church in Need Sri Lanka Appeal. Bookings via www.theword.org.au or phone 1800101201.

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