20th Anniversary of Award-Winning Theatre Wagon Film

August 3, 1999

The film version The Visit to the Sepulcher — or Visitatio Sepulchri in its original Latin — will be shown in Mary Baldwin University’s Francis Auditorium this Friday, August 6, at 8:00 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. Francis Auditorium is located in the Pearce Science Center at the corner of Frederick and Coalter Streets.

The Visitatio is a deeply moving medieval music drama that relates the Gospel story of the first Easter. The Staunton-based Theatre Wagon, with Dr. Fletcher Collins as Executive Producer, traveled to France in the summer of 1979 to film the medieval masterpiece in period costume in the great 12th-century abbey of Fleury, where the drama originated 800 years ago.

Several members of the original troupe are connected with Mary Baldwin University. Dr. Collins is professor emeritus. Linda Dolly Hammack Mary Baldwin ’62, currently a member of the Mary Baldwin Board of Trustees, served as producer. Custer LaRue Haws ’74 sang the role of Mary Magdalene. Celia Flow Collins ’61 was a Guardian Angel. Aurelia Crawford ’74 sang the role of Mary Jacobi. Carl Edwards, who sang the role of Christ, and Curtis Nolley, in the role of John, have both served on the Mary Baldwin faculty.

The film had its premiere at the American Film Institute at the Kennedy Center in January 1980. It went on to win the Cine Golden Eagle Award and was a finalist at the American Film Festival. It has been aired on PBS stations across the country as well as at hundreds of colleges and universities, conferences, and symposia.

Dr. Collins, the author of two influential books on medieval music-drama, transcribed and edited the Visitatio from the original manuscript. The production of the film was made possible through a grant from the National Foundation for the Humanities. Mary Baldwin University served as the fiscal agent for that grant.