Renowned Polish Director Remembers Pope John Paul II
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STEUBENVILLE, OH (March 18, 2010) - "John Paul the Great has enabled people to put fear behind them," said Kazimierz Braun, internationally acclaimed Polish director, author, and former student of Karol Wojtyla (later Pope John Paul II). "Like a broken reed, he has raised and made whole our hope. He has fanned the sparks of faith and courage into a flame. Above all, he has embraced all in unconditional love."
Braun spoke of the late pontiff in the first annual John Paul the Great Fine Arts Lecture, sponsored by the Franciscan University Fine Arts Society, on March 5.
In his youth, Braun joined a group of students and faculty from the Catholic University of Lublin, Poland, called Swieta Lipka ("Holy Linden"), whose spiritual pastor and scholarly mentor was Bishop Professor Karol Wojtyla.
"Thanks to John Paul II, with increasing clarity I saw how inseparable is the union of the artistic and ethical dimensions of theater, and I understood that only this union can give a theater production meaning and energy, and express the abundant and inexplicable richness of the human being," said Braun.
"What my mentor and pastor was steering me toward was unlike anything I had studied at drama school or experienced in professional theater. I believe this was one of Wojtyla's peculiar gifts: pointing to new possibilities in every domain of human activity and restoring a proper sense of order to life, beginning with the spiritual life and branching out into politics, economics, scholarship, or art."
Braun recounted visiting Bishop Wojtyla in Krakow and being assigned a paper "on the ethical problems which a young director encounters in theater.
"It was Wojtyla's way of teaching and guiding people: to let them identify their personal, moral, or professional problems and freely search for just, honest, and proper solutions."
Bishop Wojtyla discussed the paper with Braun. "I remember his questions: How do you want to unite faith with art in your theater work? How will you strive for the highest values in terms of both aesthetics and ethics? In the time of trial, what would you choose—the world or God?"
For Wojtyla and for Braun, that question carried real meaning. "During World War II under Nazi occupation and after the war under Soviet occupation, theater in Poland was prohibited since it was considered an expression of Polish national spirit. Thus, to do theater against the occupiers' will was an act of bravery and patriotism."
Braun quoted one of the late pope's poems: "'You have gone, but through me you walk on'…This thought precisely and perfectly expresses my own thoughts after the passing away of John Paul II: He has gone, but he is still walking through me, and you, and millions of us around the world."
"Throughout my career, I would ask myself, 'What would he think? Would he approve?'"
Braun is a professor of theater art at the University at Buffalo in New York, and holds doctoral degrees in Letters, Theatre, and Directing. He worked for professional theater companies in Poland before being forced to leave the country by Communist authorities in the 1980s. Braun has directed more than 140 theater and television productions in Poland and other countries, and has published more than 30 books.
He is currently guest directing Claudel's Christopher Columbus, which will be performed by Franciscan University students and faculty the weekend of April 9-11 and April 16-18. Tickets are $4 for adults and $2 for students and seniors. Religious and children 12 and under are free.
Tickets will be available starting March 29 through Toni Aeschliman, Franciscan University faculty secretary, at 740-283-6245. Tickets will also be available at the door on a first-come, first-served basis.
Franciscan University of Steubenvil
http://www.franciscan.edu/about/news.aspx OH, 43952 US
Tom Sofio - Associate Director of Public Relati,
pope john paul II, catholic culture, polish catholicism, kazimierz braun, franciscan university
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