Kerry Temple | September 20, 2017
We all know how the story ends. Many of us know how the story goes. There’s the wintry arrival at the cabin by the lake, the cholera epidemic and other early hardships, and the devastating fire of 1879 — his faithful re-imagining of the university he founded and his mythical “too small a dream” speech.
Notre Dame is his legacy, and Rev. Edward F. Sorin, CSC, is the legend of Notre Dame proportions, the family character with enough dissonant dimensions to intrigue.
So when Jim Small asked me — probably two years ago now — what I thought of his maybe putting together a Father Sorin one-act play to commemorate Notre Dame’s 175th anniversary, I gave him a hearty, “Sure.”
Jim Small heads up the communications team for the University’s development office, and they dug into the research, working with the Congregation of Holy Cross (especially Fathers Ralph Haag and Tom Blantz) and Elizabeth Hogan, a University archivist, to put facts to the myths.
I could see the one-man act in my head. I could envision the University patriarch and icon walking about the stage — long white beard and cassock — recounting the key events in his life. And great tales they are. A history that many Notre Dame people have lost track of.
But not necessarily compelling theater.
As Jim talked about his creation over time, I would provide friendly encouragement and little else. He asked me to read the script — Sorin in conversation with God — and the few suggestions I offered hardly merited further action. The script was words on paper then, and I said, “Nice.”