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Roundtable: The Grand Inquisitor: A Play by Marguerite de Navarre, in Staged Reading

Sat, March 24, 11:00am to 12:30pm, Hilton Riverside, 3rd Level - Parish Room

Session Submission Type: Roundtable

Abstract

In early 16th-century France, the Inquisition’s chief officer rails against the Protestant religion, threatening destruction to all who dare defy his will. Restless, he quarrels with his servant, then goes outside and confronts children innocently playing games. He reproaches them for wasting time on profitless amusements, but his arguments are countered by their bold answers and joyful song. His servant is won over by the children’s faith; eventually the Inquisitor himself, softened by the simple words of the youngest child, abandons his cruel persecutions and commits himself to a new path of humility and peace. This early work of Protestant theatre is as striking for its simplified dogma “out of the mouths of babes” as it is for its presentation of common pastimes. The children’s confrontation with a Herod figure raises the spectre of the biblical Slaughter of the Innocents, a theme the author addresses in other plays (Innocents, Désert).

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