Kevin J. Wetmore Jr.
The historic Jesuit theater represents two centuries of didactic theater in which the Society of Jesus, following both the organizational instructions andSpiritual Exercisesof founder Ignatius of Loyola, used theater to inculcate virtue in both performer and audience member while teaching Latin, dance, poise, rhetoric, oratory, and confidence to the students who performed. Jesuit spirituality is inherently theatrical, and conversely Jesuit theater was intended to also be highly spiritual. The dramaturgy and scenography was spectacular and designed to draw audiences who would delight in them and learn the moral lessons the Jesuits hoped to teach while simultaneously drawing them away from a corrupt public theater. This essay considers Jesuit drama and theater in four key aspects: (1) Jesuit spirituality and performative practice; (2) the historic Jesuit educational theater of early modern Europe; (3) Jesuit drama in the missions outside of Europe; and (4) contemporary Jesuits involved in theater.
Leonard Fernando SJ
Jesuits have been a continuing presence in India since the sixteenth century. With the help of local people, they not only spread the Christian faith but also did a lot for the growth of the Indian nation, especially through education, scientific advancements, and betterment of the lives of underprivileged people. They attempted enculturation of the Christian faith in multicultural India; learnt of, discussed, and respected other religions; and mastered and contributed to the growth of Indian languages. Now about 4,000 Jesuits—mostly Indians—are working in eighteen Provinces/Regions in India. There are three major phases in the history of Jesuits in India—the beginning, suppression, and restoration. All along, true to the Ignatian charism, members of the Society of Jesus have kept their daring missionary zeal of moving to the frontiers—challenging, unknown, and unexplored.