esuit Theater usually refers to a specific form that came from the experience of Jesuit schools of the 16th and 17th centuries. Two Jesuit documents framed its guiding principles. The formula of the Institute of the Society of Jesus reminds its members that its aim is “the progress of souls” by various means including “the ministry of the word.”
The Ratio Studiorum of the Jesuit schools was a list of goals and best practices. Among the ways of integrating studies in a way that would encourage students to appropriate their lessons, they used the producing of plays as a vehicle for applying all the disciplines to a common project. The subject matter would always aim at spiritual formation of both the participants and the audience using stories of “the word” present in the Bible, the lives of the saints, and morality tales from classical literature.
The Jesuit schools gave us some of the greatest playwrights of the Western world including Moliere, Calderon de la Barca, and Goldoni. Click here to access a page at Fairfield University for an overview of the history.
Today, there are Jesuit playwrights, actors, and directors in both school settings and the professional theater. Check out our current page to find out more about them.
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-A sneak preview of some of the thoughts featured in Joy Palacio's upcoming book Ceremonial Splendor: Performing Priesthood in Early Modern France to be released this year by University of Pennsylvania Press