Claude Newman

Christo Rey

Claude Newman is a two-act play by Cathal Gallagher and was produced by The G.K. Chesterton Theatre Company in 2012 in Los Angeles and directed by Maria Vargo

Two prisoners on Death Row get into an argument over a religious medal. The prisoner who owns the medal flings it at fellow inmate (Claude Newman) telling him to "take the thing." Newman picks up the medal, attaches it to a string and puts it around his neck. That night he is awakened by a touch on the wrist. And there stands, as Claude later told the Chaplain, "the most beautiful woman God ever created." The most beautiful woman was the Virgin Mary.

Too good to be true? The chaplain certainly thought so. He had good reason to be skeptical. None of Newman's cell mates saw anything, or heard anything. Secondly, prisoners on Death Row seeking legal redress have sometimes been known to "get religion." However, Newman revealed something to the chaplain that could not be known by natural means. It had to do with a vow the chaplain had taken three years earlier. What was the vow? It's in the play. Suffice to say this revelation plus the change wrought in Newman's character made a believer of the chaplain.

The chaplain, Father Robert O'Leary, has left an account of these events. They are recorded on audio tape. In writing this play, the author relied primarily on the tape. It is not a verbatim translation; dramatic license being taken to fill in gaps in the audio or where some fact is in dispute.

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