My new play, Original Sin, was prompted by a decree issued by Pope Boniface VIII in 1298, Periculoso, which required the perpetual enclosure of all nuns.
Boniface (whom, incidentally, Dante consigned to Hell before he died) declared that he wished “…to provide for the dangerous and abominable situation of certain nuns, who, casting off the reins of respectability and impudently abandoning nunnish modesty and the natural bashfulness of their sex, sometimes rove about outside of the monastery.” His provision was to lock them in.
He concluded a wonderfully circular argument with the supposition that nuns would be thereby “… able to serve God more freely, wholly separated from the public and worldly gaze and, occasions for lasciviousness having thus been removed… most diligently safeguard their hearts and bodies in complete chastity.”
In other words they were to be sheltered from those very perils that they otherwise brought on themselves. They couldn’t get out but men could get in. Well, certain men - priests, church officials, inquisitors - usually with the aim of bossing the nuns about, some with more obviously nefarious purpose.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
On the WGGB website, Guild member Steve Hawes tells the story behind his new play, Original Sin, which opens at the Haymarket, Basingstoke on the 16th October.