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London actor performs at conference

Nov. 9, 1999

By CHRISTINA HINES

Reporter

Roger Heathcott, a London actor, performed the chapter, 'The Grand Inquisitor,' from the novel, The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoevsky Monday night in the Mabee Theater as part of the Dostoevsky Conference.

Heathcott is a professional actor and was trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Some of his major roles include: Shylock in The Merchant of Venice, Falstaff in Henry IV, Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew and Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman.

'The Grand Inquisitor' is the most famous chapter of the book and deals with the problem of evil, which is a major concern of the storyteller, brother Ivan.

The legend takes place in 16th century Spain during the Spanish Inquisition. The legend claims that Jesus reappeared during this time and was immediately recognized by everyone on the streets of Seville.

''He came softly, unobserved, and yet, strange to say, everyone recognized Him,'' quoted Heathcott.

Jesus is arrested by the Inquisition, and then, the Grand Inquisitor, an old man, comes to the prison to speak with Him.

The Grand Inquisitor is upset with Jesus because Jesus denied Satan's offers on the 'day of three temptations,' where Satan tempted Jesus three times in the wilderness.

The Grand Inquisitor feels Jesus' rejection of the three temptations has put the burden of freedom of choice on mankind, which then caused the church to take on the authority of faith and conduct.

''...Give man bread, and he will worship you, '' quoted Heathcott, ''But if at the same time someone else offers him freedom from his conscience he will throw away your bread and follow after him who has ensnared his conscience.''

During the entire scene, Jesus says nothing, and has no reactions to the Grand Inquisitor's claims except for a kiss.

The legend ends with the Grand Inquisitor releasing Jesus from prison and telling him to leave and never return.

This chapter from The Brothers Karamazov ties in with the conference's focus on religion and ethics in Dostoevsky's novel.