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chapter 8 Faith in Sexual Difference the inquisition of a creative process Daniel S. Cutrara (Arizona State University) I am a writer, a teacher, and a former Catholic priest. I have written a number of screenplays and stage plays, and have had producers secure the rights to develop two of my scripts. One of those scripts is Kali Danced, the focal point of my comments in this chapter. I have taught screenwriting for the past eleven years at Loyola Marymount University and Arizona State University. I have also worked as a story analyst in Hollywood, evaluating other people’s creative work for major production companies such as New Regency Productions and Imagine Entertainment . For me, analyzing someone else’s work is an easier task than writing an original work of substance. In fact, writing this essay, this analysis of my own creative processes, has been an extremely dif- ficult task for me. It was not something I learned to do as a graduate student in film school. Writing this essay has been like opening up a nesting doll: inside each truth I discovered about my work was yet another truth, transforming my understanding of the experience and of myself. At times this was a torturous process, since the dolls would take on a life of their own and resist being opened; think Chucky and possession.1 I found myself the inquisitor of a younger self whose heresy was that of having mixed motivations. Ultimately, like the author of the book of Ecclesiastes, I fear that at the heart of the nesting doll lies a simple fact about my work: “all is vanity.”2 This essay, then, is a report on the current truths I have uncovered in the examination of the creative process I undertook in the development of Kali Danced. It was 1998 when I began to jot down notes and consider the tale I wanted to tell. My initial intentions were to explore a world I knew intimately, that of the Catholic priesthood, sexuality, and social justice. I wanted to be faithful in the writing to my life experience and at the same time say something new. During the development of the script, however, I had to make choices in regard to the representation of difT4989 .indb 165 T4989.indb 165 2/27/09 6:57:35 AM 2/27/09 6:57:35 AM 166 daniel s. cutrara ference vis-à-vis religion, sexuality, gender, class, and national identity. The choices I made affected how open I was to discovering the truth of the characters and story I desired to tell. They were influenced on the one hand by my fears concerning Church censorship and my relationship to the Jesuit Order, and on the other by my fears in regard to my own sexual identity. The struggle with these fears led to mixed results: compromises in my creative choices for the script that I later regretted, and with those regrets the realization that if I was to be free to create, I would have to forsake the Catholic priesthood after nineteen years of religious life, which, ultimately, I did. Why This Story? Kali Danced is about many things. Apart from my need to tell a story about forgiveness, first and foremost it is a story that deals with priests as real human beings. Most representations in the media either demonize priests, such as the dark portrayal of the Jesuit assassin in Elizabeth,3 or idealize them, along the lines of the sugary Father O’Malley by Bing Crosby in Going My Way.4 Most films use priests in supporting roles, similar to the representations of women, people of color, and queers, in effect denying them a fuller sense of humanity. Moreover, most media representations portray priests as either asexual or heterosexual. This is the case in The Thorn Birds,5 a sizzling mini-series from the early 1980s. There is a certain irony in the fact that the star of the television program, Richard Chamberlain , was a closeted gay actor playing a straight priest, since many gay priests pass for straight. At the time I was writing my script, only the groundbreaking film Priest,6 written by Jimmy McGovern, a layman, offered a compassionate exploration of a priest awakening to his homosexuality . The stereotypes of priests in film and television made it more dif- ficult for my fellow priests and me to minister to others. The idealization raised unrealistic expectations that we couldn’t meet, and the...


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