PERFECT MATCH: Sinning Across Spain by Ailsa Piper and a new film starring Martin Sheen, The Way

by |April 16, 2012

Sinning Across Spain is the story of Ailsa Piper’s 1300 kilometre walk from the southern city of Granada to Galicia, “the bathtub of Spain”, in the far northwest, carrying an unusual cargo. Aside from 10 kilograms of practicalities, she also lugged a load of sins in her swag.

In the tradition of medieval believers, or scammers, who paid others to carry their sins to holy places, and so buy forgiveness, Ailsa asked her colleagues and friends to donate a sin. She then shouldered them across country, being taunted and tempted by them along the way, and trying to discover the mysteries of faith. What is faith? Did she have it? Could she get it? Would she know it if she saw it?

Sinning across Spain celebrates the call of the road, the possibilities for connection, and the simple act of putting one foot down – and then the other, and repeat – for more than a thousand kilometres of dusty road.

Author Information

Ailsa Piper is a writer, director, teacher and actor. She has been nominated for Green Room Awards as both an actor and director. Her play, Small Mercies, was joint winner of the Patrick White Playwrights Award in 2001. She is director of LuminoUS, which investigates and illuminates classic texts through detailed work with actors and light.

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In Cinemas April 26

The Way is the powerful story of Tom (Martin Sheen), an American doctor who comes to St. Jean Pied de Port, France to collect the remains of his adult son Daniel (Emilio Estevez), killed in a storm while walking The Camino de Santiago (also known as The Way of St James).

Driven by his grief and desire to understand his son better, Tom decides to embark on the historical pilgrimage, leaving his “California bubble life” behind.  While walking The Camino, Tom meets other pilgrims from around the world, all looking for greater meaning in their lives: a Dutchman (a very funny Yorick van Wageningen) trying to lose weight,  an emotionally wounded Canadian (Deborah Kara Unger) and an Irish writer (James Nesbitt) who is suffering from a bout of writer’s block.

Together, this unlikely quartet of misfits create an everlasting bond and Tom begins to learn what it means to be a citizen of the world again and discovers the difference between “the life we live and the life we choose”.

Set against one of the most stunning backdrops in the world, The Way was filmed entirely in Spain and France along the actual Camino de Santiago.

Today tens of thousands of Christian pilgrims and adventure travellers set out each year to make their way to Santiago de Compostela, making it one of the most popular treks in the world. Whether pilgrim or back packer, the redemptive and spiritual effects of The Way are undeniable and universal.

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About the Contributor

While still in his twenties, John Purcell opened a second-hand bookshop in Mosman, Sydney, in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Since then he has written, under a pseudonym, a series of very successful novels, interviewed hundreds of writers about their work, appeared at writers’ festivals, on TV (most bizarrely in comedian Luke McGregor’s documentary Luke Warm Sex) and has been featured in prominent newspapers and magazines. ​Now, as the Director of Books at, Australia’s largest online bookseller, he supports Australian writing in all its forms. He lives in Sydney with his wife, two children, three dogs, five cats, unnumbered gold fish and his overlarge book collection. His novel, The Girl on the Page, will be published by HarperCollins Australia in October, 2018.

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