We are using the story of The Big Chapel to speak about the world we live in now. A world where lies and truth become interchangeable and where dangerous rhetoric and who shouts it loudest controls public opinion. It is a story about radicalisation and violence in pursuit of resolution. It is also about how young people represent our best chance for change.
The events of the book, which take place in a broken chronology over a number of years, now happens in real time and over the course one day. We have condensed the story to be about the forceful taking of Fr. Lannigan’s schools by the Schismatics of the Bishop’s side and the simmering tensions between the two warring factions. This eventually builds to a riot on the town’s cross and eventually the tipping of the balance of power to the Schismatics as they launch an assault on the big chapel to finally remove Lannigan once and for all. The balance of our story moves between scenes of riot and scenes of prayer. Our interior scenes offer quiet, focused exchanges that help to tell the human aspects of the story. Our exterior scenes are raucous, loud interactions that represent the violence and division of the novel.
The characters, story and themes of the novel remain the same and the spirit of Kilroy’s work is crucial to our adaptation. However, the experience of The Big Chapel has evolved into something more visceral, emotive and participatory. It is a big, challenging story and our adaptation rises to this challenge by offering a unique, timely take that evokes the scale and ambition of Kilroy’s novel.