VIRIDITAS: SOUL GREENING
Interviewed by Sister Malia Dominica Wong, OP
Hawaii Catholic Herald
There are students who sometimes take my class not necessarily because they want to be an actor, but because they need to fulfill a fine arts credit. How do I encourage the shy ones? I keep challenging them. I tell them that in this class, I don’t take “No” for an answer. Eventually, they come out of themselves building confidence and actually feeling good about performing and memorizing in front of their peers. It is amazing how creative people are.
When I was in graduate school, the project for my master’s degree was to co-write and direct the bicentennial pageant for the 200th anniversary of the city of San Francisco. I had to work with the City of San Francisco, the Sixth Army, the Presidio and the National Parks Service. It was very difficult coordinating between the various sectors, as well as doing the casting and costuming, but we did it. The pageant really looked good staged on the bluff just below the Golden Gate Bridge. It was a very creative experience for me.
Another great venture I was involved in took place when I was teaching at St. Louis School. One of the Marianists had written a rock opera based on the medieval morality play “Everyman.” After two productions in Honolulu, we took it to the Eucharistic Congress in Melbourne, Australia. The original work was called “Everymania” and was performed in a professional theater set up for the play. Everything went wonderfully and it was a great educational experience for the students.
I really enjoy engaging in original work. When I was at the University of Dayton, we used to create a lot of original work which at that time was called “Happenings.” Happenings were the results of putting together combinations of music, drama and liturgy to commemorate certain kinds of feasts, especially around Eastertime and Christmas. There was also a television show that Marianist Father Robert Bouffier and myself assisted in producing every week. “All of One Household,” was an ecumenical show of plays and happenings, music, and other assorted things.
Where does the inspiration come from to keep creating? Inspiration comes through the spirit that is given to us. It says that we can do this and that we need to share that. One can be a great sculptor doing beautiful work, but still be quiet and withdrawn. In the performing arts however, inspiration gently and respectfully draws out those gifts.
We have had students at Chaminade who began as shy extras in plays who, by the time they left here, it was like night and day. I think the arts helped them. That is part of the blessing of this work, to move along and help others become more confident people for their jobs, for their life ahead.
Brother Gary Morris is a Marianist who is 52 years professed. He is an associate professor in the performing arts division of Humanities and Fine Arts at Chaminade University of Honolulu, and resides on campus at Hale Malia.