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Arena Stage Plans a ‘Passion’ Roundtable

An array of Washington-area religious leaders will discuss religion’s influence on contemporary American politics Sunday in conjunction with Arena Stage’s production, “Passion Play, a cycle.”

Hospital chaplain Joan Paddock Maxwell will moderate the debate. The Rev. Dean Snyder of Foundry United Methodist Church, Rabbi David Saperstein of the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism, the Rev. Dr. Barbara Reynolds of XM Satellite Radio and Deacon Dennis McManus of the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center are slated to attend.

Written as a trilogy, the play examines the intersection of religion and politics in Elizabethan England, Nazi Germany and post-Vietnam America. It is set to run through Oct. 16.

Admission for the discussion is free, but reservations are required. For more information, call (202) 488-3300.

‘Leading Ladies’ Proceeds to Help Katrina Relief

Half of the proceeds from the Friday performance of “Leading Ladies” at Ford’s Theatre will go to the American Red Cross for Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.

Officials also plan to invite hurricane survivors who have relocated to Washington, D.C., to attend weekend performances of the play, which is set to make its Washington premiere at the theater at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Written by Washington native Ken Ludwig, “Leading Ladies” is the tale of two struggling Shakespearean actors who decide to pose as long-lost relatives of a dying woman in an attempt to inherit her fortune.

Tickets are $25. For more information, call Ford’s Theatre box office at (202) 347-4833.

Mini Masterpieces on Display at Nat’l Gallery

The artistic, the ancient and the sacred combine to produce stunning visual concoctions in “Masterpieces in Miniature: Italian Manuscript Illumination from the J. Paul Getty Museum,” opening Sunday at the National Gallery of Art.

The exhibit, which was on view earlier this year at the Getty in Los Angeles, spotlights six cities and regions key to the development and production of lavishly decorated, mainly Christian Italian manuscripts (some sporting gold leaf and lapis lazuli). All in all, more than 45 miniatures (the paintings used to illustrate the texts), choir books, wood panels and parchment leaves are on display.

A six-minute video, located in the exhibit, highlights the process of creating the illuminations, and listening stations bring to life the very Gregorian chants depicted in two of the choir books.

Primarily culled from the Getty’s top-flight collection of medieval and Renaissance illumination (though pieces have been added to augment the show from the National Gallery’s holdings), the exhibit, which spans the 12th to 16th centuries, includes an ornate, 1153 letter B, which begins the first Psalm (“Blessed is the man …”), a two-foot-tall choir book from the late 15th/early 16th-century featuring both pagan and Christian motifs, and a splendidly composed 15-century miniature of the Pentecost.

“Masterpieces in Miniature: Italian Manuscript Illumination from the J. Paul Getty Museum,” is on view from Sept. 25 to Jan. 2, 2006, in the National Gallery’s East Building. For more information, go to

— Elizabeth Brotherton and Bree Hocking

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