Religion battles science in “Agnes of God”

Ursinus College production includes nuns, fake blood, and plenty of mystery

Claire Hughes

Do you like nuns and fake blood? Or perhaps just being entertained by a myriad of talented student performers? Look no further. Ursinus College Theater Productions is ready to perform another great show! This semester is particularly eventful for the department: not only is a student-written piece being produced, but also there will be two shows performed consecutively one day after another. One of these plays is “God of Carnage” by Yasmina Reza. The other play being performed is the revered show “Agnes of God” written by John Pielmeier.

Based on real events, “Agnes of God” tells the story of a young nun, Agnes, who mysteriously gets pregnant and gives birth to
a baby, which is found dead in her room. Agnes seems to have little understanding of what has happened, so a psychiatrist is called in to evaluate her. While evaluating Agnes, the doctor is confronted by Agnes’ Mother Superior, who aims to protect Agnes, and in doing so creates suspicion around herself. This play asks audiences: is everything truly what it seems?

 “Agnes of God” centers on a debate between religion and science, represented by the Mother Superior and the psychiatrist, respectively. Myla Haan ’21, who plays Agnes, said, “I think [the community] will be really intrigued by this show, just the topics and the discussion of science and religion in general.”

Caroline Bormann ’21, who plays the doctor, says, “I think it’s also important for a college campus; we are in this kind of transitional phase where I feel like our parents are more religious than we are and so it’s this kind of battle of your own morals in terms of faith and science.”

Haan explains that the story
is thrilling because, “There’s a large amount of mystery to it, which is extremely intriguing.” The outcome of the play remains a mystery to even the cast: “Even as we are leading up to the show dates, we still don’t know what’s going on… The last scene turns everything upside down, and it is so fun to do,” Haan said. Some of this intrigue surrounding the show involves fake blood, which, coupled with the fake vomit that will be used for the other show, “God of Carnage,” is prompting director Domenick Scudera to possibly include barf bags with the programs for the shows. This would be a first in Ursinus history.

Another first at Ursinus, students were asked to assistant direct “Agnes of God” and “God of Carnage.” When asked about her experience as assistant director, Sienna Coleman ’20 said, “It was really interesting to see the show over and over again, and
to be able to see the actors really take on the roles that they were playing.” (Sienna Coleman is the features editor for the Grizzly.) When asked about what the audience should take away from the show, Haan stated, “Keep an open mind to everything, you don’t know what everyone’s situation is.”
“I don’t know if there’s a grand takeaway to it,” says Bormann, “but in the wise words of Dr. Livingstone, ‘there’s always more than meets the eye.’”

“Agnes of God” will be performed at Ursinus on Feb.
28 and March 2 at 7:30 p.m., and on March 3 at 2:00 p.m.
in the Blackbox Theater in the Kaleidoscope Performing Arts Center. Tickets are available online. Tickets are $8 for general admission and $5 for Ursinus students, faculty and staff. Visit the Ursinus website for more information.