Can a Vote be a Sin? Catholics’ Election-Year Dilemma Inspires Chicago Play

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Set and performed in a Catholic church October 1-3, "THE ANSWER," a spiritual musical in one act, explores the dilemma of a Catholic Democrat under fire for supporting pro-choice legislation. Written and directed by author and artist Delle Chatman, this new work features the gospel, jazz and sacred music of "Choral Thunder."

Faith, Sexuality, and Power: CTU’s Theologizing Thespians Read Outside the Canon.

– Can a vote be a sin? "THE ANSWER" may surprise you. Set and performed in a Catholic church, this one-act play with music explores the dilemma of a Catholic Democrat under fire for supporting pro-choice legislation. Written and directed by Delle Chatman, an author and artist turned theology student, "THE ANSWER" moves to a score of gospel, jazz and sacred music performed by the nationally renowned choir "Choral Thunder." It will be performed October 1-3, Friday and Saturday 8 p.m., Sunday at 5 p.m. at St. Gertrude’s Catholic Parish in Chicago, 1420 W. Granville Avenue, Chicago.

"THE ANSWER" opens as Senator James Berkley Harrison, considered a shoo-in for reelection, has been denied Communion by the archbishop in his home state of Missouri. On his way to yet another appearance, Harrison abandons his campaign manager, his movie star brother and his wife in their limousine, and flees into an empty Catholic church, seeking peace in the midst of a campaign derailed by religious controversy. The night before, a mere month before Election Day, a television reporter told the world about an abortion Harrison’s daughter had when she was in college, an abortion her father knew nothing about. This shocking revelation deals a brutal blow to Harrison’s campaign and thrusts his marriage into serious crisis.

A discussion, modulated by refreshments and moderated by the playwright, will follow each performance of "THE ANSWER." A three-person panel representing pro-choice, pro-life and church/state separation views will join audience members as they explore the play’s themes. Chatman hopes that the artistic "distance" created in theater can promote understanding among those holding divergent views. Working from a first draft written nearly 20 years ago, Chatman crafted "THE ANSWER" as, "a sad but beautiful prism through which to view this painful, complicated issue. I thought a good story could create a safe place for folks to share instead of shout. If we can get past the politics of abortion, maybe we can examine it with faith and compassion for the people involved."

In 2002, when the Catholic Church’s child abuse scandal broke, Chatman waded into similarly stirred religious waters. She directed a cast of seminarians and lay graduate students at Catholic Theological Union in "Faith, Sexuality, and Power: CTU’s Theologizing Thespians Read Outside the Canon." That production presented at the seminary where Chatman herself is a student, featured poetry readings and dramatic scenes from "The Diaries of Adam and Eve," "Saint Joan," "Becket," "Agnes of God" and "J.B." among others.                                            

Amid numerous credits as a writer of film and television, Chatman wrote the story and co-wrote the screenplay for "FREE OF EDEN," a feature film for Showtime starring Sidney Poitier. She also created the recurring character of an African American cowboy in the ABC series, THE YOUNG RIDERS. She’s written two books, "The Death of a Parent" and "The Unteachable Ten," and is much sought after as a speaker on the subjects of media and spirituality. Chatman is currently a regular contributor to the WTTW series on Channel 11 entitled "30 Good Minutes" where she has presented reflections and sermons on many issues, including peace, justice, forgiveness and faith.    

"THE ANSWER" will be performed by St. Gertrude parishioners Mark Kollar, Dietrich Klevorn, Gabriel Germann, Megan Quinn, Crystal Chan, Joe O’Neill and Mike Tobin. Shelby Webb, Jr. directs Choral Thunder, a group he founded 15 years ago in Hyde Park. Proceeds from all performances will be donated to this multicultural, multi-denominational choir. Choreography by Dorothea Tobin will feature parish liturgical dancers. Joe Swearingen is set decorator. The production incorporates multimedia visual art by artist Greg Penrice who also designed its website, and photography by Jim Morris, president of Chicago’s Alliance of African American Photographers. Rev. William Kenneally is pastor of St. Gertrude’s Parish.

Tickets to "THE ANSWER" are $10 for teenagers and adults. (The play is not appropriate for small children). Voter registration will be offered at each performance. Reservations may be made by calling St. Gertrude’s Rectory 773.764.3621 or by visiting the production’s website:

To learn more about "THE ANSWER," please contact:

Regina Sawyer


Faithstruck Incorporated

(773) 338-3718 phone and fax

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