For Len Jenkin, an award-winning but difficult American playwright, two qualities essential to theatre are wonder and heart.
Taking these terms, this article examines two perplexing plays that by incorporating material from the Grail story provide
entrance to his theatre. Dissolving and interpenetrating scenes in Dark Ride can be disorienting, yet the action is clear. The characters are drawn into a quest that brings them to a convention ballroom
where a thief places a stolen precious stone on a pedestal around which the characters stop dancing. Since another Jenkin
play utilizes material from Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Parzival in which the Grail is a precious stone, one can interpret the ballroom gem as a Grail image that functions in Western literature
as a motive for questing. Despite the lack of heart, because character interaction is minimal, the play has the wonder of
questing. Poor Folk’s Pleasure is a series of scenes in which characters interact, sing, and dance within a framework in which a boatman with a “beatific smile” arrives, but when none board his boat leaves. Since a miraculous vessel that transports questers on their adventure appears
in the anonymous Queste del Saint Graal, one can interpret the boat as the miraculous ship in the Grail legend. Despite the lack of wonder, because the characters
do not undertake the quest, the play has the heart of pleasure. Thus the two plays complement each other with each one dramatizing
just one of the two essential qualities of theatre. Other Jenkin plays, however, dramatize the two qualities integrated. By
paying attention to the presence or absence of quest and pleasure therefore, the critic can begin to appreciate Jenkin’s theatre
of wonder and heart.
There are registrations of baptism in Eszék (Osijek, Croatia) in 1735 and 1740 including the name of Paulus Antonius Senser. He first appeared in Pécs in 1742 where he cleaned the Saint Emeric altar picture of the cathedral. After the death of his first wife and the christening of his children born to his second wife (1744, 1745), his name was included in the city's tax register and in 1747 he was admitted among the town-dwellers with citizen's rights together with two fellow painters (Ioannes Erdely and Franciscus Antonius Witz). Instead of paying the 30 florins required, he painted a Iustitia picture for the municipal council – which may be identical with the Solomon's judgment picture in the Janus Pannonius Museum. He painted the still extant Miracle of the loaves for the refectory of the seminary in 1746 or 1747. In 1756 he created the Supper at Emmaus for the Franciscans in Vukovár (Vukovar, Serbia) for a fee of 90 florins. This picture has disappeared together with two altar pictures in recent years. The only signed work of his, Feast at Portiuncula, a gift by the vicar of ðakovo in 1753, survives in Visoko in Bosnia-Hercegovina. A collation of some long-known and mostly recently explored archival data with the extant works of Master Paulus permits the assumption that the Eszék and Pécs masters were one and the same painter who died in Pécs in his 41st year on 8 January 1758. His pictures contain distinctly idiosyncratic features on the basis of which further paintings commissioned mainly by Franciscans and Capuchins in Máriagyűd, Pécs, Slavonski Brod, Siklós and Eszék can be attributed to him. In rendering pictures of saints he adopted some clear-cut stereotypes: rose-cheeked Madonnas with a charming smile (e.g. Maria Victoria around 1753, Kraljeva Suteska), characteristic male saints with suffering faces and drooping mouths (Sts Francis, Antony, Didak, Bonventura, Sebastian, Rock – Eszék, Slavonski Brod, ðakovo). In the background of an altar picture of a saint, the virtuosic rendering of a tiny scene of the respective legend in an architectural setting can usually be seen. The fourteen helping saints (Máriagyűd, Siklós), the Miracle of the loaves and the Stoning of St Stephen (Pécs), the Supper at Emmaus (Vukovár) are crammed with excited, often caricaturistic figures with vigorous gestures. These characteristics and the historical data appear to substantiate the attribution of two paintings on the theme of Solomon's judgment (Eszék, Municipal Gallery and Janus Pannonius Museum, Pécs), both probably ordered by the municipalities. Senser worked with assistants, conducting a workshop: the hand of his pupils can be discerned in several baroque altar pictures of former Southern Hungary. On account of its influence, his extensive and far from complete oeuvre has a salient place in both Hungarian and Croatian art history.
An oil painting on a copper plate in an ornate brownstained wooden frame with carved rosettes and meanders from around 1700 cropped up in the art trade. It shows a young woman in decorative garments reminiscent of Maria Theresa’s portraits. She is wearing a diadem studded with gems and pearls, and holds a palm branch in her right hand with a bracelet of pearls on her wrist. Her charming but self-assured smile evokes a legend. There is a sword stuck into her above her heart – the attribute of her martyrdom. She holds her golden mantle interwoven with blood red in her left hand. As the iconographic marks reveal, the picture represents St Justina of Padua.
In the Martyrologium Romanum of great source value compiled by the historian cardinal of the Apostolic Library, Baronius in 1631 during Pope Urban VIII the feast day of St Justina is October 7. In it he notes that Venantius Fortunatus (540-600), the excellent early Christian poet also eulogized her. In Missale Romanum ordered by Saint pope Pius V in 1570 there is one martyred virgin saint from Antioch by this name with the feast day of 26 September, for October 7 was the commemoration day of the victory over the enormous Ottoman army at Lepanto from that year on by the name of S. Maria de Victoria, the Victorious Virgin.
In the diocese of Padua, in Venice and in the order of St Benedict St Justina as shown in this picture has been venerated from the Middle Ages. They selected her as their patron saint, minted their coins with her portrait. The grand church of the saint is a Benedictine abbey.
Justina came from a high-class family. From her youth she professed her faith bravely and encouraged her fellow believers to do so. Emperor Maximilian arrived in Padua in 307 and had several Christians brought there to pass judgement on them. Hearing it, Justina donned a festive costume and rushed to the help of the captive Christians. When she was interrogated, not even the emperor could get her to denounce her faith and she was sentence to death.
Over her tomb the prefect of the city Oppilio had a commemorative chapel and later a church built in the early 5th century. Remains of the latter can still be seen in the huge Renaissance basilica built between 1502 and 1550. The high altar includes the corpse of St Justina and a large statue of her is also on the altar. In terms of art more important is the life-size figure of Justina in the sculptural group created by Donatello for the high altar of the St Anthony Basilica. It is presumable that the votive picture was brought home by a Hungarian student returning from his studies in Padua.
PROVINE, R. R. (1992): Contagious laughter: Laughter is a sufficient stimulus for laughs and smiles. Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society , 30 , 1-4.
Contagious laughter: Laughter is a sufficient stimulus for laughs and smiles