Articles of Faith: (The Battle of St Alban's)


43 pages
ISBN 1-895636-41-8
DDC C812'.54





Reviewed by Ian C. Nelson

Ian C. Nelson is librarian emeritus and former Assistant Director of
Libraries (Collection Management & Budget) University of Saskatchewan
Library and Dramaturge for the Festival de la Dramaturgie des Prairies.


Because of previous successes with controversial and socially relevant
subjects such as racism in Dim Sum Diaries (1991) and Shylock (1996),
Mark Leiren-Young was commissioned in the fall of 1999 to create a play
based on the divergent views regarding the blessing of same-sex
relationships. The result, Articles of Faith, is based on the story of
British Columbia’s Saint Alban’s parish, which “disaffiliated”
with the Anglican denomination over this issue.

The scripted first act is a collection of “virtually verbatim”
transcriptions of opinions and reactions drawn from extensive
interviews. Names have been changed to guard anonymity, but otherwise
the text is totally documentary, even to the inclusion of a description
of the basic situation and the location where each interview took place.
There is, however, no indication whether this information might aid in
performance or inform the staging of the piece. In fact, the most
dramatic section is the monologue of an Episcopalian priest who was
called to administer the Litany at the Time of Death to Matthew Shepard.
The monologue is dramatic not because of the horrific and well-known
back story, but because of the counterpoint the priest himself makes
with the ecclesiastic bureaucracy surrounding the Lambeth Resolution on
Sexuality: “the obscenity of even having the thought [of having to
vote on this] as diocesan policy.” The representation and
transcription of attitudes is fairly wide and pertinent and occasionally
very nicely worded: “what keeps you in a relationship with God … not
becoming a stumbling block for [others’] faith”? The piece is still
left, however, as an “issue but no story.” It will doubtless spark
discussion, which is its stated purpose, as the second act is in effect
an open forum announced simply as “an opportunity for
individuals—and congregations—to discuss the blessing of same-sex
unions.” L’hypocrite by Michael Gauthier is a much more dramatic
example of a play of this genre.


Leiren-Young, Mark., “Articles of Faith: (The Battle of St Alban's),” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 20, 2024,