Play examines the recantation of Galileo


Theatre @ York’s successful season culminates with Bertolt Brecht’s epic drama The Life of Galileo, directed by Charles Roy, opening March 13 at York University.

The play revolves around the renowned 17th-century astronomer Galileo, whose discoveries challenged both the scientific and religious certainties of his time. This in turn brought him into conflict with the powerful Roman Catholic Church, which denounced him for heretical views. Galileo was put on trial by the Inquisition, which convicted him of heresy and forced him to recant his belief in a Copernican “sun-centered” universe.

Galileo’s recantation is the pivotal point of this gripping story. It invites the audience to examine the role of science and the power of religion in society, the manipulation of truth and nature of betrayal, and their interrelationships.

Despite being set in the 1600s, The Life of Galileo is surprisingly contemporary. The Vatican didn’t remove the verdict of heresy against Galileo until 1992, when Pope John Paul II asked the Pontifical Academy of Sciences to formally conduct an in-depth study of the church’s case against Galileo.

Considered one of the most influential theatre practitioners of the 20th century, Brecht wrote most of his major plays, including The Life of Galileo, in the shadow of his exile from Nazi Germany. Brecht’s exile and the play bear uncanny parallels, and perhaps that was Brecht’s intention.

Theatre @ York embraces this classic with the combined talents of the Department of Theatre’s undergraduate and graduate students. The cast for The Life of Galileo is drawn from the fourth-year undergraduate acting ensemble and graduate MFA acting class. The production is designed and constructed by the department’s undergraduate students, with set design by Laura Gardner, lighting design by Jason Hand and costume design by Meghan Bennett.

The co-founder and artistic director of Talking Camel Productions and The Classical Theatre Project, Charles Roy has directed extensively in Toronto and Montreal. His recent production credits include Hamlet (Hart House Theatre), Scenes from a Jazz Bar (Poor Alex Theatre Cabaret), Ordering Ives (Talking Camel Productions) and Romeo and Juliet (Classical Theatre Project). A graduate of McGill University and a Fellow of Visva-Bharati University in Santiniketan, India, Roy is currently completing his MFA in directing in the Graduate Program in Theatre at York.

The Life of Galileo previews Sunday, March 13 and Monday, March 14 and opens Tuesday, March 15, running daily through Saturday, March19 in Burton Auditorium located at York’s Keele campus. Showtime is 7:30pm with matinees at 1pm on Wednesday, March16 and Friday, March18.

Admission is $12, $8 for students & seniors, and $5 group rate. The Sunday preview is pay-what-you-can, the Monday preview is $5. For more information, contact the box office: 416-736-5172, ext. 3.

This article was submitted to YFile by Mary-Lou Schagena, publicist, Faculty of Fine Arts.