So, I’ll be honest, I had to research the definition of the word “catechism” (a form of teaching, for the uninitiated as well) before interviewing actress Nonie Newton-Riley before her one-woman show. “Late Nite Catechism” at the Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville, which opened last night (9/6). I have attended a few Catholic weddings, but that’s about the extent of my experience with religion. I couldn’t give you the names of more than a handful of saints, and I don’t remember much of what I was taught in my own church growing up. But I can say that even I – along with the multitude of Methodists, a Jew, converts, non-religious and a few “pagans” in the audience last night – had a delightful time learning from “Sister” in the fully interactive show.
Newton-Riley is actually not the ânunâ in town for this weekend’s run, as she had a conflict, but you can read an interview where she gives a preview of the show here. Sister Aubrey is sweet as a cake in the role, however, with âmy darlingâ and âmy darlingâ as she interacts with the audience for the two hours. There are eight different versions of the Catechism on Tour – just as there are (many) different catechisms within the faith – and Sister’s current evening class (We, the audience, are her students.) Focuses on the Saints.
WHEN – 8 p.m. on September 7; 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on September 8; 2 p.m. on September 9
O – Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville
COT – $ 25 to $ 32
INFO – 443-5600, waltonartscenter.org
FYI – The sister will be in the lobby after the show to accept donations for the Benedictine nuns in Arkansas
What I expected to be a solo show with a bit of improvisation and interaction, turned out to be almost entirely improvisation and audience participation / interaction – more performance art than narrative theater. This show is also not a dismantling of religion, as I suspect more than a couple in the audience last night to think. Instead, “Late Nite Catechism” turned out to be a charming exchange between sister and audience, with a bit of mockery here and there – more on audience members than on religion.
If you have the knowledge to answer my sister’s questions – which best end with a “Yes, Sister” or not, Sister“- she will reward you with overflowing enthusiasm both for your accuracy and for the little gift she will give you. But be warned: if you make the mistake of chatting with your neighbor, pulling out your cell phone or any other act that offends sister, she will be call you up and maybe even put you in the “time out chair” on the stage. So, naturally, expect audience members to start arguing.
Sister’s teasing towards audience members created a fun, entertaining, and unique theater experience, as interaction was the essence of the show. And even though I’m not from the background, I still understood almost all of the material, and of course, enjoyed all the humor. The question-and-answer opportunity that Sister presents in Act 2 was another entertaining moment and really puts her improvisational skills and religious knowledge to the test. (The sister passed off brilliantly, of course.) The two hour show that didn’t start until 8 pm on a “school night” started to drag on a bit towards the end, but a glass of wine in the end. intermission helped. And since it’s Catholicism, it didn’t bother Sister.
The setting at the Starr Theater was perfect to make the show even more intimate, so feel free to come in with your questions or brush up on your knowledge of your Saints. Sister will certainly be able to see you and could call you out of the crowd. Even if she doesn’t, watching her perform with the audience, without ever missing a beat, is a fun little diversion from life that you can see four more times at the Walton Arts Center.
NAN What’s new on 07/09/2018