The Quality of Mercy in Drama- Autumn Lecture Series 2019

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St Martin-in-the-Fields

Trafalgar Square

London

WC2N 4JJ

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Part of the annual Autumn Lecture Series.

Simon Russell Beale is one of Britain’s most loved actors. His acting career began in Edinburgh, and from there with the RSC. He has performed numerous times at the National Theatre, and won Olivier awards for his roles in Uncle Vanya at the Donmar Warehouse and Candide at the National Theatre. Outside theatre, he has performed in many radio, television and film productions, including Dead Girls Tell No Tales, Henry IV, Parts I & II and The Death of Stalin. He has most recently performed in the highly acclaimed Lehman Trilogy. He received a knighthood for his distinguished career in theatre in this year’s honours list.

Juliet Stevenson is one of Britain’s leading actors. She has worked extensively for the RSC and National Theatre, winning an Olivier award for her performance as Paulina in Death and The Maiden in 1991. Most recent theatre credits include starring roles in Wings at the Young Vic and Robert Icke’s Mary Stuart and Hamlet. Film and TV work includes Truly, Madly, Deeply, Bend it Like Beckham, Departure, The Hour, The Accused and Riviera for Sky Atlantic. Juliet has worked with asylum seekers and refugees in order to bring their life experiences to others and her theatrical work continues to push boundaries and challenge.

Richard Carter studied English and Drama at the University of Wales and the London Institute of Education. As a drama teacher and later a priest he directed productions in many parts of the world and around the UK, including St Martin’s. He has used drama extensively in his ministry, teaching, and conflict resolution, which is described in his book In Search of the Lost 2006 and ‘Holy Theatre: Enfleshing the Word’; by Richard Carter and Sam Wells, published in Theatrical Theology: Explorations in Exploring the Faith 2014. He is Associate Vicar for Mission at St Martin-in-the-Fields. His latest book The City is my Monastery is published by Canterbury Press in October 2019.

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The quality of mercy is not strained.
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes...
It is an attribute to God Himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God’s
When mercy seasons justice.

— Portia, in William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, Act 4, Scene 1

‘There can be no future without forgiveness’ (Desmond Tutu). Against a cultural and political backdrop of division, hostility and blame, our autumn lecture series explores ‘the quality of mercy’. The series brings together brilliant and renowned writers, artists, and speakers to address an issue essential to our times. How can our preachers,
prophets, writers, actors and poets help us to see the world through others’ eyes? The spoken, written and embodied word often has the power to bring about catharsis and transformation. Image, narrative and metaphor often hold the secrets of deeper truths. Can a society rediscover an empathy, compassion and depth of understanding that crosses divides and prejudices and widens perspectives? Can mercy ‘season’ justice? Are
mercy and accountability compatible? Shakespeare’s Portia suggests mercy becomes a blessing to both the one who gives and the one who receives. Jesus said ‘Blessed are the merciful for they will receive mercy.’ (Matt 5.7) In this exciting Autumn Lecture Series we will be exploring what that means for us.

*Cover image: Christ before the High Priest, Gerrit van Honthorst. With permission from The National Gallery




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St Martin-in-the-Fields

Trafalgar Square

London

WC2N 4JJ

United Kingdom

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