The Wayward Artist Presents
Directed by Anna Miles
Musical Direction by Diane King Vann
Choreography by Emily Mae Kamp
This Production runs 85 minutes without intermission.
Craig Tyrl ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
Craig Holland MANAGING DIRECTOR
Sydney Fitzgerald PRODUCTION MANAGER
Anna Miles DIRECTOR
Diane King Vann MUSICAL DIRECTOR
Emily Mae Kamp CHOREOGRAPHER
Mykaela Sterris STAGE MANAGER
Elizabeth Gimple ASSISTANT DIRECTOR
Maria Rodriguez ASSISTANT STAGE MANAGER
Andrea Decker DRAMATURG
Brooke Aston Harper IDEA REPRESENTATIVE
Avery Tang SCENIC DESIGN
Xavier Contreras SCENIC ASSISTANT
Alecia Bennett LIGHTING DESIGN
Anna Miles & Mykaela Sterris SOUND DESIGN
Anna Miles COSTUME DESIGN
Elizabeth Gimple HAIR & MAKE UP DESIGN
Anna Miles & Elizabeth Gimple PROP DESIGN
Hildegard - Hand
Hildegard - Eye
Hildegard - Mouth
Diane King Vann PIANO/SYNTH
Val Larsen HARP
Anais Azul VOCAL LOOPING & CHARANGO
David Page PERCUSSION
Special Thanks to Grace McClean, Jonathan Fisher, Denise Miles, Tina McClean, The Woodland Opera House, Allan P. Cason, APC Entertainment, Maddi Deckard, "Sustainably Yours" Natural Cat Litter - Endorsed by Jackson Galaxy, Papa John Godoy, Carly Jean Paul, Maya and Keith Colclough, Haley and Wes Ruby
by Andrea Decker
Though she lived almost a thousand years ago, we know quite a bit about Hildegard of Bingen. She left us music, sermons, letters, a partial autobiography, medical and scientific observations, and illuminated manuscripts describing her visions. She is known as a composer, religious leader, writer, healer, visionary, and Saint. But that is not the Hildegard that appears in In the Green. Hildegard spent most of her early life enclosed with Jutta von Sponheim and only began her public life at around thirty-eight after Jutta’s death. We know almost nothing of the two women’s lives together, only that Hildegard backhandedly described her mentor as “an uneducated woman.”
Playwright and composer Grace McLean calls In the Green “a sort of origin story.” She became fascinated by Jutta and the impact her mentorship must have had on young Hildegard. One possible reading of this play shows contrasting ideologies between the strict Jutta and Hildegard’s embrace of light, life, and green. Scholar Barbara Newman writes, “Jutta devoted herself to prayer, fasting, vigils, nakedness, and cold; she tortured her body with a hairshirt and an iron chain.” In contrast, Hildegard saw the body “not as the tomb of the soul but as the temple of the Holy Spirit.” She did away with many of the rules Jutta had established for their community.
At the same time, McLean hints that Hildegard is unable to break the cycles of abuse and trauma from the outside world and from Jutta herself. While most of the play deliberately sets Jutta and Hildegard outside their historical context, McLean pointedly includes Sigewize and the Cathars at the end of the narrative. In her sermon at Cologne, Hildegard preached that heretics “had no faith,” “were seduced by the devil,” and that they would be killed “like rabid wolves, wherever they can be found.” Another interpretation of In the Green thus asks whether Hildegard becomes like Jutta as she tries to hold onto and sustain her community.
Place and Time
Hildegard was born around 1098 in what is now Western Germany. In The Green explores her life enclosed with Jutta in the monastery of Disibodenberg and her later life in the convent she founded at Rupertsberg, Bingen. Hildegard of Bingen—or Hildegard von Bingen—refers to the community she founded and the place she died. Hildegard lived in a time of religious and political conflict. The German king (and Holy Roman Emperor) Henry IV was locked in a struggle with Pope Urban II over the right to appoint the prince-bishops of the empire, which essentially meant control of the hierarchy. The conflict continued in Hildegard’s later life, when in 1159 Frederick Barbarossa challenged Pope Alexander III by supporting the election of three “anti-popes.” At the same time, extreme religious dissidents rejected the material world and saw the human body as corrupt. Those extreme dissidents were sometimes grouped together under the term “Cathars,” though it’s unclear whether there was an organized group by that name during that period. Clerics like Hildegard who supported the Gregorian reform movement but rejected extreme asceticism came into conflict with both the corrupt politics of the highest officials and extreme reformers who sought to tear down the formal church. Hildegard thus saw the church as being in distress.
Hildegard’s Life and Contributions
Hildegard was born the tenth child of a family of lower nobility. While her later life is well-documented, her early biography is full of holes. The Vita Hildegardis, a collection of biographical and autobiographical documents about Hildegard assembled after her death, claims Hildegard’s parents gave her to the monastery as an oblate or tithe. The Vita Hildegardis and Vita Juttae (life of Jutta) disagree on when Jutta and Hildegard took their vows; Hildegard’s biography names the date 1106, when Hildegard would have been eight years old, while Jutta’s more trustworthy biography states Jutta took her vows and entered the enclosure in 1112. Jutta may have already been responsible for Hildegard’s education before they were enclosed.
Hildegard lived for twenty-four years under the spiritual care of Jutta of Sponheim. We know little about that time except that Jutta developed a reputation as a holy woman, ascetic, and miracle-worker. After Jutta’s death, Hildegard was elected leader of their community. She was thirty-eight years old. Hildegard rejected many of Jutta’s extreme teachings and introduced moderation into the community.
Hildegard had visions as early as three years old, but they became more intense and frequent as she grew older. Five years after Jutta’s death, Hildegard fell into a deep illness which she took as a sign from God to begin writing her visions down. She wrote a letter to Bernard of Clairvaux, the clerical authority of the time, who affirmed her as a prophetic authority and granted her the right to write down her visions, unheard of for a woman at the time. She was the only woman of the age to be accepted as an authority on Christian doctrine. Her letter is the first written document we still have from Hildegard. She began a flurry of intellectual and spiritual activity that would last the rest of her life.
While working on her first book of visions, Scivias, Hildegard decided to move her community from Disibodenberg, where they were attached to a monastery, to a convent she would found at Rupertsberg. She received heavy pushback from male authorities for this decision; the women in her community came from noble families and generated significant income for the monastery, both through their doweries, which were donated to the monastery, and through interest from the broader community, which sought out Jutta and Hildegard as visionaries and miracle-workers. Rupertsberg represented freedom for Hildegard from both male authority and Jutta’s lingering reputation. Rupertsberg was founded and built from 1147 to 1150. Hildegard also began to travel and preach sermons. Her fame grew.
Hildegard suffered from illness in her final years, and the death of her longtime secretary Volmar in 1173 was a significant blow. However, she continued to write, relying on other monks to edit her texts. Hildegard died at Rupertsberg surrounded by her fellow sisters on September 17, 1179.
Hildegard produced three volumes of visionary theology: Scivias ("Know the Ways", composed 1142–1151), Liber Vitae Meritorum ("Book of Life's Merits" or "Book of the Rewards of Life", composed 1158–1163); and Liber Divinorum Operum ("Book of Divine Works", also known as De operatione Dei, "On God's Activity", begun around 1163 or 1164 and completed around 1172 or 1174). Each describes and interprets visions Hildegard experienced. The manuscripts are illuminated, or illustrated. While it is unlikely that Hildegard drew illustrations herself, scholars believe she carefully directed others who drew the illustrations. Figure 1 shows two images from Scivias: the image on the left shows Hildegard herself experiencing a vision, while the one on the right shows her portrayal of the universe surrounded by a divine light.
Hildegard today is also known for her music composition and scientific writing. She composed a morality play called Ordo Virtutum (Play of the Virtues), the oldest surviving musical drama not attached to a liturgy. It would have been performed in the monastery by and for the nuns and select noblewomen. It is said that Volmar, Hildegard’s secretary, played the role of the devil. Hildegard also wrote sixty-nine other musical compositions. Her music is monophonic, meaning based around a single melody, often with individual variation and melisma. Her medicinal and scientific writing stem from her experience tending the garden and working in the infirmary. They form a wealth of evidence and also impacted later scientific observation and theory.
All the characters who appear in In The Green are real people.
Mechtild of Merxheim-Nahet, a woman of lower nobility.
Volmar was a monk of Disibodenberg and was likely one of Hildegard’s teachers. He was the first person to validate her visions and tell her to write them down. After Jutta’s death, Volmar became Hildegard’s secretary, editor, and good friend. He stayed with her until his death in 1173, which she mourned greatly.
Richardis von Stade (1124–1152) is best known for her friendship with and service to Hildegard; however, her family is of higher nobility than Hildegard’s. Her father, Rudolf I, who dies before we meet Richardis in In the Green, was Margrave of Nordmark and Count of Stade, and of the Udonid noble family. Richardis assisted Hildegard with Scivias before being elected abbess of Bassum Abbey, which meant moving away from Hildegard, something Hildegard strongly opposed. Richardis died about a year after becoming abbess. Hildegard wrote, “O how great a miracle there is in the salvation of those souls so looked upon by God that His glory has no hint of shadow in them [...] just so was it with my daughter Richardis, whom I call both daughter and mother, because I cherished her with divine love, as indeed the Living Light had instructed me to do in a very vivid vision” (Letter to the Archbishop of Bremen).
Marchioness von Stade:
Richardis’s mother, also named Richardis.
A young noblewoman of the city of Cologne who may have heard Hildegard’s sermon against the Cathars in 1163. Hildegard’s exorcism of Sigewize is the earliest known exorcism of a woman in Catholic Church history since the Bible. While possessed by a demon, Sigewize wandered the streets asking for an old woman named “Scrumpilgard” to cast out the demon. Hildegard agreed to see Sigewize and found that she could compell the demon to preach for salvation. She did not immediately exorcise the demon but allowed it to preach through Sigewize for the season of Lent before casting it out. Sigewize eventually joined Hildegard’s community and helped to fight against “Cathar” extremism.
Jutta von Sponheim:
Jutta garnered significant fame as a holy woman within her own lifetime. Countess Jutta von Sponheim (22 December 1091 – 1136) was the youngest of four noblewoman daughters of Count Stephen of Sponheim. Against her parents’ wishes, she rejected marriage and desired to go on pilgrimage. When they refused to let her travel, she decided to take holy orders. Rather than enter a convent, she became an anchoress, an anchor for God in the world, which means she enclosed herself and declared herself wholly separate from the world. Jutta was famous for an extreme ascetic lifestyle. She tortured herself with a hairshirt and iron chain. While Benedictine rules required reciting the Psalms, Jutta would recite the entire Psalter every day, often while enduring some form of physical torture, like immersing her bare feet in the snow.
Grace McLean’s Vision
Grace McLean grew up in Southern California and attended the Orange County School of the Arts. At eighteen she moved to New York City and attended NYU, where she took courses in medieval art as well as music and theater. She came to know Hildegard first through her illuminated manuscripts. She writes,
She was an extraordinary woman who lived an extraordinary life – but it was her early life that became the real sticking point for me. Her seemingly boundless activity and hunger for expression began when she was in her forties. Before that, because she was locked in a monastic cell with another woman, little is known about her because, well, she was essentially a hermit. The fact that she was so young when this hermitage began (her family gave her as a tithe to the church when she was eight), and knowing that her formative years were spent in austerity and darkness, made me wonder what about that situation would have thrust her into such a flurry of activity once she left the cell. And so In The Green became a sort of origin story.
Grace McLean wrote In the Green as writer-in-residence at the Lincoln Center, where it premiered in June 2019.
The script opens with a quote from Carl Jung’s ‘Red Book.’ The full quote reads, “How little we still commit ourselves to living. We should grow like a tree that likewise does not know its law. We tie ourselves up with intentions, not mindful of the fact that intention is the limitation, yes, the exclusion of life. We believe that we can illuminate the darkness with an intention, and in that way aim past the light. How can we presume to want to know in advance, from where the light will come to us?” McLean gestures towards the contrast between Jutta’s journey—tying herself up with intention—and Hildegard’s journey towards illumination and acceptance.
In addition to writing, McLean is an active performer currently performing in Bad Cinderella on Broadway. She also has a band, Grace McLean & Them Apples. Her striking and original composition choices reflect her interpretation of the characters. Jutta is written to use vocal looping technology which echoes both the extreme recitation of the Psalter described above and Jutta’s fixation on the rules she’s created for herself. Hildegard, in contrast, is broken into three distinct voices. Both characters are musically broken. McLean also uses Hildegard’s compositions and words but does so in a manner that makes no attempt to sound like a twelfth-century group of nuns singing. In contrast, she names Bulgarian women’s choirs and throat singing as inspirations for the sound, aiming for something both contemporary and timeless.
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