By Gracy Boes ’19
North Central University Theatre’s rendition of “Doubt: A Parable” opens March 16, and runs through March 25. Both evening and matinee performances are available.
This Tony-Award and Pulitzer-Prize-winning drama, written in 2004 by John Patrick Shanley, is an enthralling and thought-provoking investigation of truth and consequences.
Seeing the story from all sides
With only four cast members and a heavy subject matter, Wayne Matthews, Assistant Professor of Fine Arts, M.A., decided to present this piece in the round (a style of theater in which the audience surrounds a stage placed in the center of the room) and simplify the set.
“The advantage of a piece being presented in more skeleton-like way is that the emphasis is not on the set, the lights, the costumes, or the sound it’s on the action of the play and the people that are a part of it.” The 360-degree view gives the audience an all-access pass to the experience and a chance to get up close and personal with the characters and their actions throughout the performance.
What this play lacks in numbers, it more than makes up for it in complexity, and the cast isn’t taking that lightly. Sister Aloysius (played by sophomore Rebekah Peterson), is a school principal in the Bronx who takes matters into her own hands when she suspects Father Flynn (played by sophomore Soren Miller) of having an improper relationship with one of the students.
Peterson hopes people see that there is more than meets the eye with Sister Aloysius. “I have seen the strength [she] holds…her certainty is empowering,” Peterson said. “To be so certain is like standing straight in a windstorm.”
A similar desire to convey the complexity was expressed by Miller, playing the priest with a tendency to find inspiration for his sermons in his daily interactions. “Despite his flaws, this vision for commonality and familiarity between the church’s leaders and the people surrounding them is one that should be recognized,” Miller said. “I hope to bring an understanding between the character of Flynn and the audience, that Flynn’s ideals and beliefs may be bigger than the accusations upon him.”
More than just a play
“Doubt: A Parable” is less about a scandal and suspicion and more about convictions and the question of moral certainty. Matthews reminds us what the play is truly about. “[The play] is not really about the accusation of abusing children, or whether he is guilty of that or not. It’s really about this idea of uncertainty.”
The play opens and closes on the subject of doubt and according to Miller, “The play asks the audience to dwell on the frailty of certainty, the challenge of faith, and the tragedy of wisdom. It asks the audience to do something so few sources ever dare to do: to doubt.”