Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

Cell is a one-woman play written and performed by Cindy Oswin. Photograph © Rod Morris.

650 years of Julian of Norwich’s Revelations

Cindy Oswin has a remarkable career as actor, director and writer. Her most recent commission was to write a play about the mystic, Julian of Norwich. The result is Cell – a one-person play about this mysterious woman with a man’s name who spent nearly 40 years locked into a 12 foot square room. Erica Smith asked Cindy to tell her more…

Cindy Oswin

Cell is based on the life and work of Julian of Norwich, who was the first woman to write in English. Julian was a medieval mystic, who chose to be enclosed in a cell – women who elected to do this were called ‘Anchoresses’. They would sometimes have a small window where women from the congregation could come to ask them for advice.

Little is known about her but she is thought to have been a woman from a fairly humble background, not necessarily a nun. Her writings are in Middle English rather than Latin – she is thought to be the first woman who wrote in English. She is known as Julian of Norwich because the church where she was enclosed was St Julian’s Church, in Norwich.

In 1373, at the age of 30 Julian was so seriously ill that she thought she was on her deathbed. She received a series of visions, or ‘shewings’, of the Passion of Christ. She recovered from her illness and wrote down her experiences – they were written in secret and called the Revelations of Divine Love.

This year is the 650th anniversary of Julian of Norwich’s visions which is why nationally respected actor and playwright Cindy Oswin has been commissioned to write the play. It was commissioned by Godelinde Gertrude Perk, an Oxford academic who specialises in medieval studies and was supported by TORCH (The Oxford Research Centre into the Humanities).

Cindy, a resident of St Leonards, says, “I first heard of Julian of Norwich 30 years ago, and I’ve always been fascinated by the story of her choosing to be locked up. The Revelations are a series of conversations with the crucified Christ about sin, suffering, love and hope. She also refers to Jesus as ‘Mother’. Julian’s work was written and passed on in secret because she didn’t believe in hell or sin – such beliefs were blasphemous at the time.”

The famous phrase from the Revelations is: “All shall be well, all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”

Cindy’s one-person play involves a dialogue between herself and a life-sized puppet created by local puppeteer Julia McLean of Idolrich Theatre Rotto productions. The performance promises to be a remarkable one act play full of drama, humour and hope.

Two events:

On Thursday 28 September at 4pm in Christ Church, Silchester Road, St Leonards. Cindy will give a free talk and followed by an informal discussion about Julian of Norwich.

The performance of ‘Cell’ will be at 7.30pm on Saturday 30 September in Christ Church. Tickets are £10 on the door. The performance will last about an hour.

You can see a short film about Julian of Norwich made by Cindy Oswin here. You can find out more about Cindy Oswin on her website.


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Posted 15:27 Wednesday, Sep 13, 2023 In: Performance

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