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The Irish Inquisition returns to Notre Dame

Molly Griffin | Thursday, December 2, 2004

ou’ve been summoned. The Irish Inquisition is back, and you just might be their next victim. The event allows students to put some well-known University members in the hot seat for questioning and comedy. The first of the series of Inquisitions will be held in South Dining hall on Sept. 22 at 8 p.m., and it will feature football coach Tyrone Willingham. There will be a “bat signal” lit up outside of the dining hall announcing the event prior to its start. The event is set up as a mock inquisition of an important member of the Notre Dame community, this Wednesday’s being Willingham. Leading the questioning is the Grand Inquisitor, played by Peter Wicks, who is also one of the head writers. A group of three Tribunalists assists the Grand Inquisitor, and this year they are Charlie Ebersol, Kamaria Porter and Peter Quaranto. John Hart, the winner of the Mr. Coolwater pageant, will be filling in for Peter Quaranto for the first show. The festivities are held in the vaguely medieval Oak Room above South Dining Hall. The special guest must sit on the Chair of Truth and is given a few minutes to speak, after which the Grand Inquisitor, the Tribunal and the audience are allowed to ask questions. Following their round of questioning, the Tribunal takes a vote on the speaker’s merits and, depending on the results, they receive a shirt declaring either, “I was condemned as a heretic at the Irish Inquisition” or “I got off on a technicality at the Irish Inquisition.” The speaker is then escorted off by the Inquisitor’s Guard, who more than vaguely resemble the Irish Guard, to the Balcony of Detention to watch the rest of the show, which includes more testimonies and comedy bits. There are three shows planned for the fall, and each one has a different major question that the featured guest must answer. The first show’s is, “What is the best advice that you’ve ever received?” The show planned for Oct. 27 will focus more on the upcoming election by asking, “Whom are you supporting in next week’s election and why?” The Dec. 1 show has not been determined yet, but may deal with a science/technology question. Anyone is allowed to send an electronic “summons” to a professor or other University employee by going to the Inquisition’s website at www.nd.edu/~inquisit, and they can contribute ideas for the topic of that night. The Irish Inquisition is the brain child of Ed Cohen, associate editor for Notre Dame Magazine. He conceived it last year after hearing a number of people voicing strong opinions about the invasion of Iraq and regretting that there wasn’t a venue that would allow regular people to speak out about such issues with an audience. Figuring that the last thing that a college campus would need was another lecture series or panel discussion, Cohen proposed a humorous way for the Notre Dame community to approach these important issues while still having a good time. The Inquisition is not an official student group, but is actually an adjunct of underwriters. The group includes undergraduates, administrative staff, Ph.D. candidates and even the head of building services. The event is sponsored by a variety of groups on campus including but not limited to Student Activities Office, Mendoza College of Business, College of Arts and Letters, Center for Social Concerns, Medieval Institute, First Year of Studies and the Graduate Student Union. The first show debuted fall 2003, and was principally underwritten by Student Government. The Irish Inquisition is a great opportunity to see some members of the University community in a capacity outside of the classroom or the football field having a good time. The event is free and open to all students.