More than 300 parked in a field and sat, many of them rapt, before the granite amphitheater carved out of a hillside at John Henry and Ann Crittenden’s Stone Hill Farm near Flint Hill Saturday afternoon — for a staged, costumed reading of “Galileo’s Torch,” a new play by James Reston Jr. The play, which grew out of Sunday-morning gatherings on the porch of the Laurel Mills Store with businessman Henry and his eclectic band of conservative and liberal Rappahannock County brothers, replayed the 17th-century trial of Galileo Galilei, after the astronomer-mathematician tested Catholic dogma with his assertion that the earth orbits the sun. It starred many of Henry’s D.C.-based friends, including federal appeals court judge David Tatel playing the black-robed Inquisitor, former White House counsel C. Boyden Gray as a convincing Pope Urban VIII and conservative icon Richard Viguerie in the red robe of Cardinal Bellarmine.
Former Rappahannock News editor Roger Piantadosi is a writer and works on web and video projects for Rappahannock Media and his own Synergist Media company. Before joining the News in 2009, he was a staff writer, editor and web developer at The Washington Post for almost 30 years.