Anyone visiting the Basilica this summer is in for the unique experience of an escorted tour in the form of a one-man play led by local actor and playwright, Paul Rowe. Rowe is in character as Bishop Michael Anthony Fleming — the first Roman Catholic Bishop of Newfoundland, who worked tirelessly to improve the lives of his parishioners and his community.
The play, “Fleming,” was recently awarded a Manning Award for Excellence in the Public Presentation of Historic Places. Playing the part of Fleming, Paul Rowe recounts the dramatic construction of the church and grounds.
Fleming spent five years securing the land on which to build, and oversaw the massive project with great persistence and collaboration. As Rowe/Fleming recounts the early days of the Basilica, you’ll learn about its social and cultural significance, and about the formative and often turbulent history of the young Colony of Newfoundland.
While touring the stunning halls of the Basilica, guests will learn how citizens of all faiths came together to build this remarkable National Historic Site. “Fleming” can be your journey back to the late 1840s, when the city was constructing the largest cathedral of its date in the New World.
The play returns from a healthy run in August of 2015. Organizers happily report that reception of “Fleming” has been “overwhelmingly positive, with many people surprised to learn how much work and dedication went into building this landmark. Comments by audience members include, ‘the best $10 I’ve spent in a long while,’ and, “I had no idea the place had such a story.’”
Fleming will be shown at the Basilica at noon, Tuesdays through Saturdays, from July 5 through August 27. Tickets are $12 regular, $10 for students and seniors, and available at the Basilica.