Thought-provoking 'Doubt' takes Geyer Performing Arts Center stage
A powerful play that won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony Award for best blay in 2005 makes its way to Geyer Performing Arts Center March 8-11 for four performances by Actors & Artists of Fayette County.
Earl “EJ” Christopher of Uniontown, who is directing “Doubt, a Parable” by John Patrick Shanley, says the production is unique in that “there are not a lot of shows anymore that really make you think. This is the show for that. By the end, you shouldn't be certain. That's the whole idea.”
The drama revolves around Sister Aloysius, the principal at St. Nicholas Catholic Church and School, who takes control of a situation when she suspects one of the priests, Father Flynn, has been having improper relations with one of the male students.
Kat Post of Scottdale portrays Sister Aloysius in a role she says causes her to search her heart and mind every day.
“After reading the script, I jumped at the opportunity to be involved in yet another drama about real life,” she says. “In addition to the light-hearted shows and musicals we often produce, I believe in giving our audience some meaty subjects to chew on throughout the year. ‘Doubt' is not only intense drama; it deals with a subject that we have been grappling with for decades: pedophilia.”
Post says the cast has been immersed in this difficult subject matter for two months “and it takes a toll. EJ, our director, is the glue that holds us together. He provides time for the cast to grow and bond together … and insightful notes, which promote deeper examination into ourselves, our character, and the other characters as we create this production.”
Stephen Ray, originally from Greensburg now living in Pittsburgh, is playing Father Flynn, whom he describes as a charismatic and powerful man at St. Nicholas Parish.
“He's relatively new to the parish, but he's made a home for himself and has become very popular with the parishioners and the students, and has a vision for a progressive and welcoming Catholic church,” Ray says.
Tackling the role of the accused priest is a matter of striking a balance in every performance for Ray.
“I have to have very purposeful intentions in my own mind, make clear decisions that I understand completely, while also not allowing the audience to feel certainty about anything. If I've done my job right, no one will be able to walk out saying they're confident they know the truth,” he says.
“Doubt” should leave its audiences weighing the options, according to Ray.
“I think they should walk out of the theater feeling profoundly unsettled,” he says. “The original cast for this show said that the second act of the show is the discussion that takes place amongst the audience members as they leave the building, and I think that's a fantastic way to put it. You should walk out feeling like you have an idea what the conclusion was, but you'll never be able to know.”
Christopher is intent on making sure elements of the Catholic church are presented accurately in this production.
“Even though doubt is obviously the main theme in the play, the Catholic church is where this ‘parable' takes place, so the accuracy is very necessary,” says the director. “In addition, helping the actors get into the true psychology of their characters has been quite the challenge as well, but they have not disappointed me yet.”
Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.