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April 21, 2004

Contact:  Patricia Angelin (Skemp) @212-695-0296 or 917-887-9388, or Father Bernard McGarty @796-3788


LA CROSSE, Wis--Patricia Angelin (Skemp), actress, director, and writer, will be returning to her hometown of La Crosse to direct and perform the lead role of Lydia, in Father Bernard McGarty's original drama, Lydia: A Seller of Purple. The new work will debut in Viterbo's  La Croix Black Box Theatre May 14-16.

Admission to the event is free and seating is available on a first-come, first-serve basis. A discussion between the audience and artists will follow the performance. Performance times are 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, May 14-15 and 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 16.

The play is set in ancient Greece, circa 55 A.D. and based on the biblical writing of Acts:16 centering on the life of Lydia, who is recorded to be the first European convert to Christianity. McGarty's Lydia is seen as a wife, mother, and shrewd and savvy businesswoman who is involved in the Greek textile market as a seller of purple fabric, an imperial color found in the luxury goods of the day.

She is also frightened to her core by what she sees as the increasing moral decadence in both civic and religious life. A lack of discipline, moral slackness and non-acceptance of duty are rampant in the society ruled by the Emperor Claudius. At the height of her panic, Lydia is concerned over her teenaged daughter Cynthia, who is contemplating joining the sexual fertility rituals at the Temple in Corinth.

Around this time, the Apostle Paul begins his much-acclaimed evangelization mission to the Gentiles. Paul comes to Lydia's town of Phillipi to preach and he is eventually imprisoned there. Paul's words are a moral comfort to Lydia and according to Angelin, "Her questions are answered, her fear removed, and her emptiness is filled . . . Lydia becomes the first European convert, and her family home the center of Christian worship--the first 'house church' on the continent of Europe."

Although Lydia lived in ancient Greece, she symbolically has a place in our modern society according to McGarty's script. At the urging of Viterbo faculty member David Gardiner, he added the first scene, which is set in 2004 as a means of making the connection even clearer to the audience.

Angelin, who lives in New York, is excited at the prospect of returning home to La Crosse to direct and act in McGarty's performance although she knows that the demands of directing Lydia on a very short timeline are enormously challenging.

"Father McGarty's play is an original work in progress, and we are busy casting," Angelin said. "This will be a very unique drama based on Father's scholarship. Theatre is at its best, truly recreational. It is 're-creational' in that it makes us feel and think about ourselves and our world. This performance, with its parallels from past to present, will hopefully stimulate the mind as well as the heart."

Although extracurricular to Viterbo's normal presentations. McGarty and Angelin have contracted with a number of university and community resources. John Dominic Sullivan, a regular in La Crosse community theatre circles, is production stage manager, Jeff Stoltz will serve as costume designer, Dillon McArdle as lighting designer, David Warren will be in charge of sound, and Andrew Watkins will provide technical direction.

McGarty is visiting scholar in Ecumenical Studies at Viterbo University. For Angelin, her return is a reunion of sorts as she was involved in a number of Viterbo productions before moving from La Crosse to New York.


Patricia Angelin (Skemp), actress, director and writer, has ties to the La Crosse area and Viterbo University which will be rekindled when she  returns to the area to direct and play the role of Lydia”in Father Bernard McGarty’s play, Lydia: A Seller of Purple.

The eldest daughter of Dr. Joseph J. and the late Patricia McIlhargey Skemp, and granddaughter of attorney Thomas H. and Beulah Skemp, Patricia Angelin Skemp was reared in La Crosse, attending Cathedral Grade School and Aquinas High School.

Angelin’s acting credentials span the globe from Los Angeles to London to Vienna, Austria where she performed at the famed Vienna English theatre.  She began her career at the La Crosse Community Theatre as “Mustardseed” in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and filling every backstage job she could, particularly enjoyed stints as Properties Mistress.

And  Angelin--which is her stage name--feels strong ties to Viterbo. "Although I am not formally an alumna of Viterbo," she said, "I consider Viterbo an alma mater, and I treasure in particular, my experiences learning from the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration over many years."

Even while a student at Aquinas, she was at Viterbo as a voice student.  On the Fine Arts Center stage, she was “Liesl Von Trapp” in The Sound of Music production featured in Time magazine, “Suor Lucilla” in the opera Suor Angelica, and “Anna Leonowens” in The King and I.  Since then she has acted in a wide variety of classical and contemporary roles in theatre, film and television.  Her stage credits include The Glass Menagerie, My Fair Lady, The Beggars’ Opera, Jesse and the Bandit Queen, and Lysistrata. 
In addition to her commercial on-camera and voice-over work, Miss Angelin has been a Guest Artist at the New York School of Visual Arts and the New School for Social Research in New York, University of Scranton and Marywood University in Scranton, Penn., Calvin College, Mich., University of Toledo, Ohio, and Smith College, Mass.
She serves as teaching artist and is an ongoing consultant to the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.

With degrees in theatre from the College of Saint Teresa, Winona, and Penn State University, Angelin has published several scholarly works.  Her book (with Robert Lowery) My Very Dear Sean: Letters and Articles from George Jean Nathan to Sean O’Casey led to an article entitled Comrades in Arms concerning the friendship of playwright O’Casey with drama critic Nathan, which appeared in the international quarterly journal “Eire/Ireland.”  She contributed to Saroyan, A Biography, by Lee and Gifford, and wrote articles on Julie Haydon and Audrey Wood for Notable Women in the American Theatre, ed. Robinson, et al.  Recently she oversaw the reissue of The World of George Jean Nathan.  Angelin is the Literary Executrix of the George Jean Nathan Estate and the Estate of Julie Haydon.

Professional affiliations include Actors’ Equity Association, Screen Actors Guild, Irish Actors’ Equity, and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, the guilds of professional actors.  Angelin is also a certified teacher and practitioner of Alba Emoting, a revolutionary approach to human emotion pioneered internationally by neuro-psychologist Dr. Susana Bloch.

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