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DOUBT

About The Production
"What do you do when you're not sure?”

Father Flynn

"To be in doubt is not comfortable, as anyone can attest who has ever awaited lab results, fretted over a test score or stood vigil over a silent telephone, awaiting a call. It's a psychological itch, and you want to scratch your way to certainty. But it is often the first step on a path to greater spiritual or moral wisdom, a deeper compassion, a breaking free from constricting dogma. The crisis that Sister Aloysius faces in the play's shattering final moment is one that everyone faces at one time or another: the discomfiting discovery that the world is not ordered as you thought it was.”

Charles Isherwood, The New York Times

From the opening moments of John Patrick Shanley's DOUBT to its powerful conclusion, uncertainty hangs in the air, drawing the audience into a provocative mystery in which two nuns, a priest, and the mother of a young boy – as well as the audience itself -- are forced to confront their core beliefs as they struggle with judgment and verdict, conviction and doubt. In the battle of wills that ensues, DOUBT raises probing questions about the challenges of navigating a world increasingly confronted by sweeping changes and moral dilemmas.

It was the very word "doubt” that first inspired Shanley to write what would become the most acclaimed play of the last decade, and now, to adapt the story into a screenplay that enlarges the play's world and uses the fluidity of cinema to plant new seeds of uncertainty. At the time he began writing, Shanley recalls vast numbers of polarized political pundits literally shouting at each other on television. "I felt surrounded by a society that seemed very certain about a lot of things. Everyone had a very entrenched opinion, but there was no real exchange, and if someone were to say ‘I don't know,' it was as if they would be put to death in the media coliseum. There was this mask of certainty in our society that I saw hardening to the point that it was developing a crack – and that crack was doubt,” Shanley explains.

"So I decided to write a play that celebrated the fact that you can never know anything for certain. I wanted to explore the idea that doubt has an infinite nature, that it allows for growth and change, whereas certainty is a dead-end. Where there is certainty, the conversation is over, and I'm interested in the conversation, especially because another word for that conversation is ‘life.' We've got to learn to live with a measure of uncertainty. That's the silence under the chatter of our time.”

For Shanley, the overriding challenge was incorporating not just the theme but also the very mechanism of doubt into the fabric of his story, unraveling facts and truths the audience might think are clear at the outset, and leaving the audience finally to explore these loose ends in their own way. Throughout, Shanley's one incontrovertible dictum was to never lead the audience to any one individual conclusion. "What was always important to me,” he explains, "is that the sense of doubt belongs to the audience. I'm not going to tell them what's right and wrong. I wanted to simply make them think and feel something, rather than tell them what to think and feel.”

Once Shanley knew he wanted to write about doubt and the necessity of weathering the inevitable challenges to one's beliefs, he began to ponder the setting for such a tale. "I wanted to apply the way I see things to a situation that was very fraught and seemingly insoluble,” he says, "and this led to a parish priest accused of taking advantage of a member of his flock. I wasn't interested in the church scandals themselves, but I was looking for a polarizing situation, one in which most people would brook no hesitation in condemning a person – and then throwing those assumptions back at the audience in a di

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