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Home Arts & Culture Katie Luther’s Reformation Story Told in Performance

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by April Bayer


The spotlight was turned to a sometimes forgotten figure of the Reformation in a series of vignettes on the life of Katharina von Bora “Katie” Luther, performed by students as part of Concordia’s 500th Reformation Celebration.

The performance on Thursday, April 18 featured excerpts from the play The Morning Star and the Nightingale by Dr. Paul Schreiber, which was adapted into a script by Associate Professor of Communication & Theatre Bryan Moore.

“In this play, Martin Luther is not the star or the leading character,” Moore said. “Katie is the star, the Morning Star…Martin is never onstage in monologue but is also never far from Katie’s thoughts. In the play, we meet Katie portrayed true to her times, but rather than presenting a strictly historical or theological analysis, attention is focused on the personal aspects of her life.”

Moore said that Schreiber was inspired to write the play after he was approached by a student who was interested in portraying Katie Luther in an opera. The title was taken from nicknames given to Martin (“Nightingale”) and Katie (“Morning Star”) Luther during their lifetimes, as Katie Luther often rose early in the morning and Martin Luther often stayed up late working.

The presentation provided a brief historical review of Martin Luther’s work and theology through the eyes of his wife. It featured monologues about Katie Luther’s time as a nun, her escape from the cloisters in the back of a wagon, her marriage, her faith, her trials later in life as her husband’s health declined, her time as a widow, and her vocations as a wife, mother and caretaker.

Moore directed the vignettes and divided them into four acts, which were performed by seven student actors who recited Katie Luther’s monologues, served as narrators or recited excerpts from Martin Luther’s works.

“I think (including this event) is interesting,” sophomore and student actor Rachel Dorn said. “I love doing staged readings because I think they offer key insights, and Katie Luther is someone you don’t hear about very much.”

Actors included Dorn; freshmen Eric James and Samantha Pietanza; sophomores Katherine Draucker, Peyton Wallage and Jayme Lowe; and senior Melonie Kotschwar. The play also featured a vocal performance of Martin Luther’s hymn “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” by freshman Bethany Schilling.

The vignettes were followed by a brief question and answer session where the actors could share their personal insights about the script and performance with the audience.

“The interaction between Katie and the others was really well-done,” said Larry Noack, vice president and membership committee chair of the Alumni Council. “It really gave a good idea of what it must have been like for Katie in the different stages of her life.”

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