by Joseph Zwilling and Mercedes Anderson



The Sheen Center for Thought & Culture’s second annual Sheen Center Theater Festival of Catholic Playwrights opens Thursday, June 21 at 7pm with an evening of performances by the most prominent Catholic theater companies in New York City, including Turn To Flesh, Xavier, Magis, and Storm.  Opening night will feature readings from their current projects followed by a discussion with the companies’ Artistic Directors on the importance of having theater with a Catholic vision represented on the New York stage.  The Sheen Center Theater Festival of Catholic Playwrights runs from Thursday, June 21 through Sunday, June 24 with staged performances by emerging and established Catholic playwrights telling the stories that speak to the heart of our times.

This year’s full-length plays showcase a broad range of artistic voices under the direction of Melissa Crespo, Kathy Gail MacGowan, and Chris Rivera. Friday’s staged reading of Matt Barbot’s El Coqui Espectacular and the Bottle of Doom follows the creative journey of a young, Nuyorican comic book artist whose exploration of heritage and identity take on new dimensions when life begins to imitate art; Saturday brings to the stage The December Man by Colleen Murphy, about a Montreal family struggling with grief in the aftermath of suicide and public gun violence; Sunday, the festival closes with The Merry Widows of Windsor by Emily C.A. Snyder, a Shakespearean adaptation featuring two widows testing the freedoms and limitations of widowhood.  The selected plays explore the beauty of the human experience as it arises in life’s broken and redemptive moments. The cost of admission is free, but RSVP is required at

Members of the press interested in covering this event are asked to kindly contact Mercedes Anderson at  [email protected].

The Sheen Center Theater Festival Schedule  
Thursday, June 21 at 7PM:
Festival Opening – Showcase of Catholic Theatre Companies & Conversation with Artistic Directors Opening night features some of the most prominent Catholic theatre companies in New York City, including Turn To Flesh, Xavier, Magis, and Storm, as they showcase excerpts from current shows and engage in a talkback on the importance of theatre with a Catholic vision in today’s cultural landscape. The showcase and talkback will be followed by a cocktail reception.

Friday, June 22 at 7PM:
Staged Reading – El Coquí Espectacular and the Bottle of Doom by Matt Barbot, directed by Melissa CrespoEl Coquí Espectacular and the Bottle of Doom examines the ways in which we define our heritage and ourselves. Alex, a comic book artist whose ideas might be “too Puerto Rican,” has begun secretly dressing up as his creation: El Coquí Espectacular, defender of Nuyoricans in all five boroughs! When his brother Joe is fired from a project for not being Puerto Rican  enough, the two, with the help of a young photographer named Yesica, hatch a plan: to debut El Coquí at the Puerto Rican Day Parade and prove themselves to the world. A Q&A with the participating artists will follow the reading.

Saturday, June 23 at 7PM:
Staged Reading – The December Man by Colleen Murphy, directed by Kathy Gail MacGowanThe December Man follows the tale of Jean Fournier, a young man coping with grief and regret after fleeing the massacre at L’École Polytechnique de Montréal in 1989. By exploring the aftermath of the tragic event, the play forces the question: what would we have done had we found ourselves in Jean’s situation? This searing drama on courage, heroism and despair explores the long private shadow that public violence casts. A Q&A with the participating artists will follow the reading.

Sunday, June 24 at 2PM:
Staged Reading – The Merry Widows of Windsor by Emily C.A. Snyder, directed by Chris Rivera Shakespeare’s  Merry Wives have become Snyder’s  Merry Widows in this hilarious sequel with a feminist edge. Alice Ford and Margaret Page find themselves newly autonomous – but while Alice embraces all the possibilities the world has to offer, Margaret continues to mourn the loss of her husband. When news comes that the bastard son of Henry V might be in the town, Alice is told it is her duty to seduce the young man to keep him, and his wealth, in the town. Except, it seems her husband, Francis Ford, isn’t quite as  dead as everyone thought he was! With an added touch of  Hamlet, Shakespearean merriment, and a very confused Dogberry and Verges (who took a left turn at Illyria),  The Merry Widows of Windsor is sure to delight audiences of all ages. A Q&A with the participating artists will follow the reading.

The Sheen Center for Thought & Culture ( is a New York City arts center located in NoHo that presents a vibrant mix of theater, film, music, art and talk events. An initiative of the Archdiocese of New York, The Sheen Center serves all New Yorkers by presenting performances and artists that reflect the true, the good, and the beautiful.  Named for the late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, best remembered as an inspirational author, radio host and two-time Emmy Award-winning television personality, The Sheen Center reflects his modern-day approach to contemporary topics. The Sheen Center is a state-of-the-art theater complex that includes the 270-seat off-Broadway Loreto Theater, equipped with five-camera high-definition TV and live-stream capability and a multi-track recording studio; the 80-seat off-off-Broadway Black Box Theater; four rehearsal studios; and an art gallery.