“You got some kind of righteous cause going with this priest and now you want to drag my boy into it.”
So says Mrs. Muller (Tamara Steele) as she squares off against school principal Sister Aloysius (Barbara Rhodenhizer) in John Patrick Shanley’s “Doubt: A Parable”.
Thought-provoking, unsettling and timely, this play challenges the audience members to embrace their doubts because through them is how people will grow.
Sandstone Theatre Company presents “Doubt: A Parable” at Watermark Theatre in North Rustico, Nov. 6-9. On stage, two strong personalities clash: Sister Aloysius is a staunch traditionalist who sees evil in every action that differs from her concept of right and wrong; Father Flynn (Adam Gauthier) is the force of humanity and change, befriending the boys especially the marginalized ones.
But are his motives pure? And is change always the right choice?
Sister Aloysius chastises the young Sister James (Jenna Marie) for being too friendly with the students, saying, “They’re children. They can talk to each other.” Which is correct – time-honoured societal roles or relationships based on compassion and understanding, with their fuzzy boundaries? What happens when – or if – the lines of propriety and adult responsibility are crossed? And of course, there are always victims.
This powerful play, although set in 1964 New York, transcends time and place in its treatment of questions that still plague people today. The certainties that anchored previous generations have been questioned and found wanting, leaving doubts. Yet these doubts can re-define people.
“Doubt requires more courage than conviction does, and more energy, because conviction is a resting place and doubt is infinite . . . . Doubt is nothing less than an opportunity to re-enter the present,” said Shanley.
Director Paul Whalen and Rhodenhizer were both involved in the 2013 ACT (A Community Theatre) production of the show at St. Paul’s church and both are excited to be working on a remount of this play.
“It’s been six years since Doubt was last staged and I feel as though, through those years, I have grown and learned more about myself and stagecraft… and will be able to prompt the audience to question not only the characters, and the story presented, but also themselves,” said Rhodenhizer.
Whalen, who also directed the 2013 production sees the play as one that “deals with a church in transition and the vulnerable who were preyed upon by people they trusted… The playwright has created a play where we, the audience, must make a decision: did he or didn’t he? We are left with moral ambiguity.”
Doubt: A Parable opens at Watermark on Nov. 6 at 7:30 p.m., with shows on Thursday, Nov. 7, Friday, Nov. 8, and Saturday, Nov. 9 at 7:30 p.m., with and a Saturday matinee at 1 p.m. Tickets are $25 and are available online at ticketwizard.com or at the door.