‘Shadows Of The Reef’ At Notre Dame

Notre Dame’s Department of Film, Television and Theatre presents Shadows of the Reef, a Lenten meditation, Feb. 21 to March 3, in the Philbin Studio Theatre.

This production, featuring a cast of Notre Dame students alongside South Bend community members and Chicago professionals, is written and directed by Anton Juan, senior professor of directing and playwriting in the FTT department.

Inspired by Good Friday observances in the Philippines, where blood-soaked flagellants walk the streets and towns hold annual crucifixions, Shadows of the Reef is set in a poor fishing village, where young boys are recruited by Japanese fishing trawlers to dive deep into the sea. There, they pound on the coral to agitate the fish – then swim swiftly to the surface before they too are trapped in the trawlers’ massive nets.

After a mother loses her young son to a watery death in the nets, she is tormented by guilt. Believing that she can find redemption through her suffering, she pleads for the opportunity to sacrifice herself in the village’s traditional Good Friday crucifixion. But is she – a woman and a prostitute – worthy of such an “honor?”

Intended as a theatrical offering for the Lenten season of prayer and repentance, Shadows of the Reef provides both a provocative indictment of illegal child labor practices as well as a meditation on the nature of salvation. “[S]alvation is sought in the descent and ascent into hell: the child to the depths of the sea, the women to the hulls of trawlers to sell their bodies,” says playwright and director Anton Juan. “Where is salvation, then?”

Juan sees his characters’ search for salvation as part of their quest to become human. “It is not human to sell your body,” he says. “It is not human to die in nets.”

Shadows of the Reef will also be a featured component of Indictment of Child Labor by the Arts, an interdisciplinary exploration of the ways that the dramatic arts have focused attention on the problems of forced child labor, organized by Notre Dame’s Center for Civil and Human Rights.

Juan will join Carlos Arejola (National Commission for Culture and the Arts in Manila) and Terrence Coonan (Center for Advancement of Human Rights at Florida State University) for a panel discussion moderated by Paolo Carozza, director of The Center for Civil and Human Rights at Notre Dame Law School.  The panel will take place at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 26, in the Eck Hall of Law, room 1140, on the Notre Dame campus.

Tickets for Shadows of the Reef are $15 for the general public; $12 for seniors (65+), faculty, and staff; and $7 for students. Mature content; appropriate for ages 16 and older. Tickets may be purchased online, by phone at 574-631-2800, or in person at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center ticket office.

Performances will be at:

  • 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Feb. 21-23
  • 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, Feb. 26-March 3
  • 2:30 p.m. Sundays Feb. 24 and March 3



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