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THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS Will Be Presented By Quintessence Theatre as a Two-Part Audio Series in June

The play cycle, rarely produced in its entirety, is made up of seven one-act plays, each exploring one of the cardinal sins in Christian teachings.

Quintessence Theatre Group, Philadelphia's home for classic repertory theatre, will present Thornton Wilder's The Seven Deadly Sins play cycle as an audio theatre series June 10 - 20.

The play cycle, rarely produced in its entirety, is made up of seven one-act plays, each exploring one of the cardinal sins in Christian teachings. The plays vary widely in content and tone, ranging from realism to postmodernism and feature such characters as classical Greek gods, St. Francis of Assisi, and even a Florida con artist duo.

Wilder carried with him the phrase, "religion is the emanation from an extinct star" ... and yet he turned to religion in what would turn out to be his final short plays," says audio play director and Quintessence Artistic Associate Lee Cortopassi. "These short plays, only 25 to 45 minutes long, depict wonderfully complicated characters in absurd and often hilarious situations."

The Seven Deadly Sins cycle has been adapted into seven short audio theatre pieces, which can be enjoyed together or separately for the most flexible listening experience. Audiences can enjoy the series directly through the Quintessence Theatre webpage, or via podcasting platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify.

"Presenting Wilder's The Seven Deadly Sins as audio theatre allows the listener the freedom to experience these tales at their own pace on their own time," adds Cortopassi. "Listen to these plays like you would to someone telling a story over a campfire. Sit in nature. Or at your kitchen window. Have a cup of coffee. Or a stiffer drink. You can enhance your experience by changing the environment you listen to Sins which I think is a very cool aspect of the project."

The audio play series will be presented over the course of two weekends, in the order Wilder originally intended. Part one runs from June 10 - 13 and includes The Drunken Sisters [Gluttony], Bernice [Pride], The Wreck on the 5:25 [Sloth], and A Ringing of Doorbells [Envy]. Part two runs June 17 - 20 and includes In Shakespeare and the Bible [Wrath], Someone from Assisi [Lust], and Cement Hands [Avarice]. The series features an 11-person ensemble cast, helmed by directors Steven Wright, Mattie Hawkinson, Paul Hebron, and Lee Cortopassi.

About the Plays:


Apollo ventures into the land of the three sisters of Fate who control the threads of each man's life, and here in disguise he tricks the sisters into releasing their death hold on King Admetus. His trick: 3 flagons of wine which he declares to be Aphrodite's beauty drink, but which make the sisters drunk. He then foils them with a riddle, releasing the king from their snares- but only on the understanding that another is to die in his stead.


Set in Chicago in 1911. Walbeck, a thoroughly hated man who cheated hundreds of people out of their money, suddenly returns home from Joliet prison when his sentence is reduced. He is greeted by two people: his attorney, who informs him that Walbeck's wife has fled to California, taking his daughter with her, and a new maid, Bernice, the self-proclaimed "best cook in Chicago" recently hired to keep the home going. Bernice, it turns out, served time for murder, and the advice she gives Walbeck on how to deal with his future allows Wilder to explore the nature of pride. Decisions have to be made quickly when Walbeck learns that his daughter is still in Chicago and coming by to see him at any moment.


In this play, which represents "Sloth" in Wilder's projected cycle on The Seven Deadly Sins, Herb Hawkins, a jovial New Jersey - New York City commuter with iron-bound habits, has called to say he is coming home late. This news sets his wife and daughter on edge, a condition heightened when a neighbor informs them that an unidentified man is hiding in the shadows of their front lawn, staring in at them. The police arrive to arrest the supposed prowler, only to find Herb, quietly observing his family through the windows of his own home. It seems that earlier that day, he received word of a surprise inheritance, left to him by a kind, lonely elderly woman. This sudden gift of a large sum of money prompts Herb to question the meaning and purpose of his own life. He returns to his place in the family with touches of humor, irony and despair.


A mother-daughter team of con-artists are putting the touch on the widows of military brass. Mrs. McCullem, housekeeper for the wonderfully regal but now wheelchair-bound widow of General Beattie, recognizes them in the drug store--having witnessed the two pull their game on her previous employer--and overhears them asking directions to the Beattie home. The play begins as she rushes back to warn Mrs. Beattie of the impending danger. Sure enough, the doorbell rings and our charlatans appear with quite a story. But instead of throwing them out or turning them over to the police, the widow Beattie allows the game to be played.


The year is 1898 and the place is an over-sumptuous parlor in New York. Mrs. Mowbrey, a mature, wealthy woman with a history to bury, makes a plan--she'll befriend her estranged niece and fiancé, and their subsequent marriage will provide her own entre into respectable society. Or at least, that's what she tells the young couple. In Shakespeare and the Bible uncovers a mystery inside a melodrama inside a meeting. Mrs. Mowbrey invites her niece, Katy and her niece's fiancé Mr. Lubbock to her home separately and unbeknownst to each other. Mr. Lubbock arrives first and is asked to become Mr. Mowbrey's attorney. Katy comes later, to meet this aunt who has fallen from her family's good graces for unknown reasons. With all three in the room, it becomes apparent that Mr. Lubbock and Mrs. Mowbrey share something that's not deemed proper for Katy to know. Yet Katy insists they tell her. When Mrs. Mowbrey leaves the room, insisting that they work things out among themselves, the mystery looms large. Katy discovers their secret and the true intent of Mrs. Mowbrey's agenda hangs in the balance: Did she intend to use her wealth to buy respectability and family relations? Or exact revenge?


Saint Francis, toothless, almost blind, and nearing the end of his life revisits Assisi where he encounters three different women: Pica, a young girl with the same name as his mother; Mother Clara of Saint Damian's Convent; and Mona Lucrezia - now a mad woman - with whom he had a love affair when he was a wild, willful young man. Saint Francis still seeks expiation for the "load of sin" with which he has offended God. This play on the Deadly Sin of Lust poses questions about the true meaning of love and about "the ideas of the Erotic as Destroyer and the Erotic as Creative."

CEMENT HANDS | Avarice (Greed)

Diana Colvin, 21, rich and "the finest girl in the world," is engaged to marry Roger Osterman, 27, very rich and "the finest young fellow in the world." With the help of a mystified waiter, Diana's uncle (her lawyer and guardian) sets up a play within a play to make sure Diana knows what she is getting into: marriage to a supreme tightwad who can give away millions to charity but can't leave a tip. Set in a fancy New York City hotel, Wilder's play about the Deadly Sin of Avarice is full of high-jinx and delivers a serious message.

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