Madonna della Media

by Caroline Ross Tajasque

An entry in the 2021 Maidenhead Drama Festival. This play also forms part of a double bill of one act plays The Scream Inside performed at Riverhouse Barn Arts Centre, Walton on Thames from 21st to 24th June 2021. Author Caroline says : This play has been many years in the writing. It came first from a sense of place, remembering a visit years ago to St Govan’s Head off the Pembrokeshire Coast. I have reimagined it here but tried to keep the sense of wildness and its position high up on top of a sheer cliff-face into the sea. The play is my attempt to reconcile faith and hope, whether in God or humanity, with the everyday misery and cruelty that we see on the news - it is set in the aftermath of the London Bombings. There is, nevertheless, a lot of humour in the play and it is ultimately a message of hope. It is also about what it means to have children. For my mother, her idea of an afterlife was the children you leave behind. So this play is for her.

Two reporters meet in an old hermit’s chapel on an uninhabited island off the coast of Wales in 2006, each to interview a young girl said to be displaying signs of the stigmata. The two reporters, one a CNN anchor-woman, the other a former priest, working for the BBC World Service, are trapped together in a blizzard. Under the silent gaze of the girl, the two mismatched reporters tease and spar with each other about Guillemots, George Clooney and belief in God. The play also probes the role of the media and its role in disaster reporting.

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Rhian - Bethan Mardell

16 years old. Welsh girl, young, sheltered, should not look like some conventional image of a saint. She is very much a girl of our time. She does not speak but is by no means impassive. She responds to what she hears and she has a pivotal impact on the other two. She is suffering a deep trauma of her own.

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Richard - Nick Lund

In his 40’s. A former BBC World Service reporter, turned priest, he looks to God to explain what he has seen but finds no answer there. Intelligent, intense, with a deep desire to believe in something and not to become inured to what he sees, he left the BBC after Rwanda 1995 and decided to join the priesthood, but he was suffering from the trauma of what he had seen. He was ordained but the unease in his soul cost him his marriage. Then his baby daughter, at 4 years old, is killed while in Richard’s care, a loss that brings him to a crisis of faith, his departure from the church and a personal meltdown. He has retreated to Wales, a place he felt happy as a child, and lives in a caravan. He is a man in crisis, which comes to a head in this play.

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Carolyn - Jean Warner

Aged 50. American reporter for a CNN affiliate, born in Tennessee, she marries young after an early bout with drink and drugs but is divorced at 22 years old and leaves for Georgetown University and goes into journalism. Her big break is the Oklahoma bombing in 1996 but this is too much for her and she retreats to the daytime slot for a CNN affiliate in Utah. She is losing her place to younger, prettier journalists eager for her job and is contemplating writing a book. She desperately wants children but has left it too late and her age, and history of drugs and drink, have ruled her out to adopt. At times vivacious, at times waspish, and seemingly shallow, she has a force of personality and a strong belief in the value of the things of this world, the here and now. She also has a deeper wisdom and she is the one that will heal the other two. General American accent – she is from the South but hides it well.

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Director - Nancy Lund

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Stage Manager - Liz Thomas

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Lighting - Michelle Blake

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Sound - Ian Santry

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Set Design and Construction - John Godliman