Joan D. Chittister Lecture/Event Series performance on May 3, 2019 with Sr. Joan!

Joan Chittister The Play

Joan Chittister:
Her story,
my story,
our story


Promotional Trailer


About the play

A one-woman play about two women


When Teri is on the right side of the stage she is playing Joan, on the left, herself.  Playing multiple characters -- their mothers, grandmothers, fathers, friends--Bays tells the stories of Joan and Teri's lives.

Intersecting Lives


The story of their intersecting lives, the parallels and connections help the audience see how they are also connected to these universal stories of adversity and abuse. 

Joan's favorite childhood book


Small snipets of Joan's favorite childhood book are used to tie the story of Joan's life together,  



There are funny, heartbreaking, wise defining moments, ironic similarities and unexpected outcomes.  

Letters, Speeches, Books


Besides the scenes any audience would expect, portions of Joan's letters, books and speeches are used to further the story of her life.  Small portions of wisdom are delivered from the podium on stage until finally we hear the genius of Joan's keynote address--it's humor and inspiring call to action.



The universal themes  of identity, domestic abuse, life, war, spirituality, justice issues, women and interfaith--are all woven throughout the play.   

Her story, my story, our story

Joan Chittister


A Benedictine Sister of Erie, Joan is a leader in peace and social justice issues, most especially for women.  Sister Joan has written over sixty books, most recently Radical Spirit.  Joan is the co-founder of the Women's Global Peace Initiative and is an international speaker.

Joan D. Chittister Lecture/Event hosted Play


Joan Chittister  invited  Teri  to  perform  the  play  on  May  3,  2019  at  the  Performing  Arts  Center,  

Mercyhurst  University  

as  her  guest  for  the  Joan  D.  Chitttister  Lecture/Event  Series.    

Joan’s  surprise  entrance  for  a  portion  of  the  play’s  final  speech and  a  standing  ovation of nearly  700  attending,  made  for  an  exciting  evening!


Teri Bays


A singer, writer and actress, Teri performed at The Duplex in NYC and has starred in numerous theatrical productions, including starring roles as Maria in The Sound of Music, Anita in West Side Story, and Hodel in Fiddler on the Roof.  A pastoral musician for nearly 40 years, she has recorded two CDs, authored Through Stained Glass: the priests of my life.  She lives in beautiful Sedona, AZ.

What they say about Joan...

Fr. James Martin, SJ priest and author

"Joan Chittister is that rare combination of a gifted spiritual writer and a great prophetic voice in our church, speaking out for women, for minorities and for all marginalized people.  When I think of someone who speaks truth to power, I think of Joan."   


What they say about the play

Dr. Christine Pharr, President of Mount Mary University

"Teri Bays' performance is deeply moving.  It evokes many emotions about the struggle to understand the important role of women...Learn of the courageous examples of leadership Joan and Teri set for all of us!"


"Unbelievable! That was a truly magnificent performance--an inspired and important work!"

Roberta W., Business Manager

"Brilliant, moving, inspiring and the way you combined the memories and characters was so effective!

 Alicia M., Rabbi

"Wonderful play and performance!"

Monica, W., Episcopal priest

"Thoroughly enjoyed the show! Amazing writing and performance!"

 Marie B., 

"Really incredible! I keep thinking about the play. I am excited to learn more about Sister Joan."

Stephanie K., former news reporter



By Morristown Green Contributor -  September 18, 2017 

 By Linda Stamato

Some 28 years ago, Teri Bays sent a letter to Benedictine nun Joan Chittister.

“I wish your words were on my lips,” wrote Bays.

They are now…..with stunning and, at times, shocking, effect. The large and appreciative audience gave Ms. Bays a standing, sustained ovation at the conclusion of her performance.

Joan Chittister is a woman for all seasons. With 60 books, 12 honorary degrees, leadership positions too numerous to count, and a global following, this revered author and speaker has had a lot to say about peace, justice, women’s issues and the role of religious life in the modern world. 

She certainly has created a presence.  And Teri Bays, her disciple, “becomes” her to demonstrate through Chittister’s words–and her own–the profound connection between them. She intensifies Chittister’s impact and makes it at once personal and universal. The performance is deeply affecting.

As Bays moves from left to right on the stage, we hear each woman in various times and places, and witness the strands of experience that connect them. 

Bays’ mother was in elementary school with Chittister;  both women, as girls, sought refuge from terror in their households that were fueled by their fathers’ alcoholism and abuse. 

Seeking freedom from fear, they found solace in books, in their diaries and journals, and in companionship and support in the homes of friends, in Bays’ case, and in Chittister’s, in the Benedictine convent which she joined as a novice in 1952.

Their paths diverge and come together as certain themes emerge: Struggling for standing, engaging in protest, embracing non-denominational spirituality, seeking self-understanding in times of change, teaching to embrace social justice, and loving music. 

They both experience and resist intolerance, racism and sexism in the church, and, confidently, distance themselves from it.

Seeking to advance morality over religiosity, they take stands for life–more than birth, living free from poverty and duress–they attack the “enemies of our time: Power and profit,” and they assert their equality, resist silencing, and answer the call to leadership, in different ways to be sure.

As Chittister says, “The church needs women for its salvation,” I heard a strong echo from her disciple and supportive murmurs from the audience.

Bays’ performance is delivered with a heavy hand–Chittister’s compelling words–but also with a light touch–expressing the great good humor of both of these talented, courageous and resilient women. 

The Rev. Dennis Crowley of Assumption Church and Bernice Anglin await start of 'Joan Chittister: her Story,' Sept. 15, 2017. Photo by Linda Stamto

Prophets and poets both, they are leading the new way, using public settings, churches, lecture halls and stages to have their voices heard, urging people, as Chittister says, “to live faithfully and to love radically, ” to be public thinkers so as to inspire openness to possibility, resisting retreat to past ways.

Billed as “a one woman play for all women,” Joan Chittister: Her Story, is so much more. 

It is a play for men too, and especially for those who wear clerical collars; it is for all those who work for change in the church and more, for those who share faith in humanity, peace, spirituality and common purpose.

Bays’ appearance was supported in part by the Sophia Inclusive Catholic Community, whose roots are solidly in the tradition of Vatican II.  Its mission was given a burst of energy and spirit tonight and Sister Joan Chittister and Teri Bays found themselves in good company.


"Marvelous. Eye-opening and inspiring."

Mary Jane, OP

Dominican Sister of Sparkill, NY

"Brilliant. Every detail- the book, the staging your double role-everything."

retired high school English Teacher


Professional pastoral musician

Loved it! Amazing presentation.

Elaine B.

I love Joan and this play captured her spirit.

Cindy V.

Wonderful. Need to spread this message at this crucial tie in human history.

Anne M.

Past Performance Spaces

Erie, PA


Joan D Lecture/Event Series, Mercyhurst University

Performing Arts Center

May 3, 2019

Milwaukee, WI


St. Mary's University

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

November, 2018

Morristown, NJ


Sophia Inclusive Community at
St. Mark's Lutheran Church

September 15, 2017

Sedona, AZ


Mary D. Fisher Theatre

April 13, 2019

Santa Rosa, CA


Glaser Auditorium

January 13, 2018

Burlington, VT

St. Michael's College
Burlington, VT
April 6, 2018

St. Michael's College

Burlington, VT

April 6, 2018

Upcoming Performances

Teri Fiorito Bays, playwright & actress, performing  Joan Chittister: Her story, my story, our story

Possible performances in Ohio, Texas, CA, FL

Let us help you coordinate a performance in your area or share resources with others interested in your area.


  • Sr. Eileen Gannon hadn’t known anything about the play and was reticent to book it, but now,  after  seeing  it,   she is willing to share her experience with others:  845-359-4129


TX - November - Plans underway

Notre Dame Chapel, North Caldwell, NJ


Just before the doors open for an intimate free-will donation performance 

Religious Community, New York


100+ Sisters & associates for a private event, 

sponsored by their religious community

Church of Presentation, Upper Saddle River, NJ


200 grateful parishioners attended free event sponsored by parish community.

Display their FAQs

Some Booking Details

Teri Bays performed Joan Chittister The Play, here at Performing Arts Center in Erie on May 3, 2019.

The Joan Chittister Play...

....runs about one hour with no intermission and tells the story of Joan Chittister, her life and work through scenes, dialogues, actual letters, as well as portions of her books and speeches. The one-woman play portrays two women to tell the story of all women overcoming adversity and abuse.  As the play progresses Joan addresses justice themes about life, women, interfaith, and spirituality.  A small table, podium, 2 chairs and wireless microphone are needed. 


Scroll back to the top of this website and click on the upper right corner  Fo r detailed  Booking Information.

Interested in a performance near you?  There may be another organization or church in your area that  is  also interested.  Please call or email to see if resources can be shared so a performance can be booked in your area.


The usual stipend is $1500,  though  for very  large  audiences the  stipend  would  increase.

In addition, travel and housing expenses are expected.

If you are interested and this stipend is prohibitive, please call to discuss alternatives.

There is more flexibility if there is more than one performance in an area.  

We like Emily  Dickinson's words,  “All,  but  death,  can  be  adjusted.”    So  please talk  to  us  about  your  specific  needs.

Thank you for inquiring.

To get started

A $500. stipend holds the date and is used for initial travel expenses.  A letter of agreement outlines some specifics. 

The balance of $1000. is due after the performance along with reimbursed travel expenses.

See Booking Information in the upper right corner at the top of this website for more details and DOWNLOAD OF  FLYERS  and  PROGRAM


Bookings are listed here At

Flyer templates and the program are here under BOOKING INFORMATION (top --upper right corner)

Other Questions?

Email or call if you have any questions.


“All, but death, can be adjusted.”

        Emily Dickinson

Your church, school, state...

If you would love to bring the play to your area:


or call


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More Press


Sedona, 2019

Teri Bays back in Sedona with ‘Joan Chittister’ live show

By Print Friendly, PDF & Email

logo_SIFFSedona AZ (April 6, 2019) – Teri Bays is bringing her one-woman show “Joan Chittister: Her story, my story, our story” back home to Sedona for a one-night performance at the Mary D. Fisher Theatre on Saturday, April 13 at 7 p.m.

Now with images, this performance precedes Bays joining Chittister herself for the prestigious Joan D. Chittister Lecture/Event series in Erie, PA, whose past distinguished guests have included Maria Shriver and Cokie Roberts.


A timely piece, “Joan Chittister: Her story, my story, our story” addresses issues around women, abuse, identity and overcoming adversity. This one-woman play will be performed by Teri Bays on Saturday, April 13 at 7 p.m. at the Mary D. Fisher Theatre.

A timely piece, “Joan Chittister: Her story, my story, our story” addresses issues around women, abuse, identity and overcoming adversity. Joan Chittister is an international speaker on subjects of peace and justice.  A co-founder of the Women’s Global Peace Initiative, and a radical Benedictine nun of Erie, Sister Joan has authored sixty books on justice, peace and equality and is a courageous and passionate voice in the Roman Catholic Church.  She has appeared with Oprah on Super Soul Sunday as well as NOW with Bill Moyers.

“Joan is a passionate and prophetic voice in the church today. It is the thrill of my life, to play this remarkable woman and speak her inspiring words,” said Bays.

One has to see the play to discover the connection between Chittister and Bays.  But as the threads of their lives are revealed, audience members begin to see themselves in the story as well.

Teri Fiorito Bays — a singer, writer, actress — served as Director of Music and Liturgy at St. John Vianney Church in Sedona for fifteen years, is the solo artist of two CDs and the author of “Through Stained Glass: The priests of my life”.  Bays has performed leading roles with FLOC and Canyon Moon Theatre, as well as starring in musicals and in cabaret shows in New York City’s iconic The Duplex and Don’t Tell Mama’s.

In her one-woman play, she weaves the themes of identity, abuse and adversity like threads in a tapestry so we both relate to the characters while also feeling inspired by Chittister’s words and wisdom.  Scenes with other characters, all portrayed by Bays, as well as published writing, letters and speeches are all used to tell the story.

Chittister has described the play: “The work is seamlessly, artfully and movingly welded together.  It’s a fresh and interesting approach to the notion of the universality of women today.  It has heart and substance….great praise.”

Teri Bays’ “Joan Chittister: Her story, my story, our story” will be performed on Saturday, April13 at 7 p.m. at the Mary D. Fisher Theatre. Tickets are $20. For tickets and more information, please call 928-282-1177 or to order online, visit You may also purchase tickets at the Sedona Film Festival office and Mary D. Fisher Theatre, located at 2030 W. Hwy. 89A, in West Sedona.

More information?


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21 San Jose Circle, Sedona, AZ 86336, US

(928) 274-0674