Site-Specific Theatre in San Francisco’s Stunning Cathedral

By Lynn Aylward

Tuesday, May 2

Didn’t make it to Egypt for the 2011 performance of Aida at the Giza Pyramids? Can’t get to Denmark this summer for the annual performance of Hamlet at Kronberg Castle? If you’re intrigued by site-specific theatre – when a play is performed not in a theatre but in a space that mirrors the drama’s actual setting – then you won’t want to miss seeing Temple, a play about a cathedral performed inside a cathedral. Temple is the gripping drama about what happened when protestors occupied London’s famous St. Paul’s Cathedral, and for one performance only you can see it performed in San Francisco’s own renowned Grace Cathedral. 

Aurora Theatre Company is presenting the US premiere of British playwright Steve Waters’ Temple from April 14 to May 14 in Berkeley. But for one special show, at 1 pm on Saturday, May 13, it is bringing the play across the bay.

The play is set in October 2011 when Occupy London set up camp outside St Paul’s Cathedral, one of London’s most beloved institutions. Soon, the building that had famously survived the Blitz, floods and terrorist threats had to close its doors, and the City of London took legal action to remove the protesters, by force if necessary. Waters’ play dramatizes the behind-the-scenes machinations of church and city leaders at this historical event, as principled people decide which of their ideals they will betray.

To be (site) specific, Temple will be performed in Grace Cathedral’s Quire, an especially beautiful and intimate part of our gothic-styled cathedral. In preparing for the production, Aurora Theatre deeply explored the cathedral and is incorporating its architecture, lay-out and even its furnishings into the performance. The result is a truly immersive experience, so theatre-goers will feel they are taking part in the wrenching collisions of idealism and capitalism, of church and state. Because Temple is being performed in the intimate Quire, where you will be seated in hand-carved choir stalls and enjoy excellent acoustics, only 180 seats are available, and ticket sales have been as brisk as a cup of English tea.   

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