New music-theatre project touches on Jesuit environmental themes

January 12, 2024

Pope Francis has long been a champion for the care and stewardship of the planet and environmental issues such as deforestation. In his recent inspirational address to Cop 28 he said:

“The destruction of the environment is an offence against God, a sin that is not only personal but also structural, one that greatly endangers all human beings, especially the most vulnerable in our midst and threatens to unleash a conflict between generations... Climate change is a global social issue and one intimately related to the dignity of human life. It raises an urgent question; “Are we working for a culture of life or a culture of death?””

The environment, the natural world, trees and wilderness have long been a cause to which composer, Ludovico Einaudi, and award-winning writer / director / actor, Jonathan Moore, have been committed. Moore and Einaudi are long-term collaborators on many projects, and both have visited Farm Street Church in London (home of the British Jesuits) in recent years. Moore, who has written a remarkable play about the founder of the Society of Jesus, St Ignatius of Loyola, directed a readthrough of his play at the London Jesuit Centre to celebrate the Ignatian Year.

Walden, the latest of their many collaborations, which follows their recent project about refugees, is based on the journals and writings of Henry David Thoreau, an nineteenth century early environmentalist who cared passionately about the natural world and the importance of living in harmony with it. Much of the text used in the project came from his years of solitude whilst living in a simple wooden cabin in the forest.

The piece had its world premiere in December 2023 at Teatro Dal Verme in Milan. Commenting, Moore said: "We all know the facts and the science, but it is the ability of art to touch the heart and soul which I find so powerful. This is something the Jesuits have always profoundly understood."

Banner photo by Matthew Smith on Unsplash

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