We were lucky to have Writer Raymond Burke chat to us about his play Cardinal Sinne, which is Glasgay! Festival 2014’s main commission. Read on, if you dare…
Tell us a little about your new show Cardinal Sinne?
Cardinal Sinne is a fictional character, the highest ranking Catholic clergyman in the country, respected and revered by all, but who has been abusing his position for many years. The play is set in his offices and chambers as he prepares to leave for the Rome conclave to help elect the next Pope. As allegations regarding his sexual conduct are revealed, he tries to lie, bully and coerce his way out of trouble but simply makes the situation worse.
What sparked the idea behind Cardinal Sinne?
Recently, when one of the most outspoken homophobes in the country was outed as a hypocrite who had been abusing younger men, we discussed the possibility of creating a biographical account. However because of the veil of secrecy that has been cast over events and ongoing investigations, it was more appropriate to create a fictional character, Cardinal Sinne, who is placed in a similar situation. This allowed us to compress the full story into less than two hours and present it as a twisted kind of farce.
Religion is far too easy a target for comedy and has just about been given its last rites as far as Scotland is concerned. Therefore it is the hypocrisy of senior members of the clergy rather than the belief system that is the main focus of the show. Although, the church, like many institutions and corporations, is undoubtedly guilty of protecting itself regardless of the pain and suffering it may cause to individuals.
How does the piece relate to sexual and religious taboos?
Organised religion is perhaps the main perpetrator of taboos concerning sexuality and, as western civilisation progresses, the inherent bigotry and homophobia are evermore obvious in contrast to the egalitarian attitudes of modernity. Paradoxically, the perpetration of homophobia may actually serve the church in a number of unexpected ways. As laity is inculcated with ideas of marriage and procreation in order to produce the next generation of believers, anyone with any unorthodox sexual preferences may find themselves drawn to a life of celibacy as a means of hiding their guilt.
The piece is a mix of ‘comic farce, serious soliloquy and ludicrous litany’; how do these elements work together?
Farce and soliloquy are uncomfortable bedfellows but we have chosen to adopt elements of these genres to represent the inherent duality of the main character. The show will thus on occasion cut sharply from comedy into prayer or litany. The external narrative will consequently portray the internal struggle of the Cardinal in the show as he tries to balance his beliefs with his own natural urges.
What other Glasgay! Festival events are you looking forward to?
Craig Hill. Since he’s always a good laugh. (And he’s from East Kilbride – which has a street named Craig Hill.)