Someone from Assisi
"If you don't race there [to the Circle in the Square] as quickly as you can you neither love theatre nor appreciate what a flourishing and provocative engaging and attractive talent Mr. Wilder is. This is a delicious evening."
-Whitney Bolton, "Three Fine Plays by Thornton Wilder," New York Morning Telegraph, January 13, 1962
"He is a man of singular temperament, often delighting in paradox, willing
and able to challenge us and disturb us. . . His definiteness and dispatch and
his natural popular touch, and the bravery of sudden little assertions every so often. . . animate his every page and every scene."
-Glenway Wescott, 1962.
1 Man, 2 Women, 1 GIrl
In this play about the Deadly Sin of Lust, Saint Francis, almost blind and toothless and nearing the end of his life, revisits Assisi, where he encounters 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 known as Francis the Frenchman, and she was a young married woman. Saint Francis still seeks expiation for the "load of sin" with which he has offended God. The play poses questions about the true meaning of love-and, as Wilder wrote, about "the ideas of the Erotic as Destroyer and the Erotic as Creative."
Someone from Assisi was first produced at the Circle in the Square Theater in New York January 10, 1962, as one of three plays grouped as "Plays for Bleecker Street.
". . . there came back to my mind that notion I had long had of doing
a St. Francis before the conversion: that saints are monsters of nature that
have hesitated, been good and evil at their extremes. This promises
to be a most extraordinary play, indeed, and full of matter not often said."
-Thornton Wilder, Journal, November 24, 1958
"The difficulty of 'Someone from Assisi' is to carry the burden of two
tremendous elements as subordinate to elements that must overweight
them-i.e., brief summarized sketches of a St. Francis and a St. Clara
as merely contributive to the idea of the Erotic as Destroyer and the
Erotic as Creative."
-Thornton Wilder, Journal, December 7, 1958
"Less amusing is that they stage a play of mine about St. Francis. . . I wanted one almost blind, toothless, but a flame of happiness; and they give me a man who could be a full-back on the Indiana football team tomorrow and who has just risen from mountains of corned beef and cabbage."
-Thornton Wilder in a letter written March 30, 1962, to Glenway Wescott about the actor cast as Father Francis in the 1962 Circle in the Square production
A Note on Publication:
Someone from Assisi was first published in 1997 by TCG in The Collected Short Plays of Thornton Wilder, edited by Donald Gallup and Tappan Wilder. It is also included in Collected Plays & Writings on Theater edited by J. D. McClatchy, published by The Library of America in 2007.