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UNT Theatre adds its own mark to award-winning play “Doubt"

Doubt - Belmore and CannonA Catholic nun accuses a priest of molesting a student – bringing up questions of faith – in the award-winning play Doubt: A Parable, which will be presented Sept. 25-28 by the UNT Department of Dance and Theatre.

The play was written by John Patrick Shanley and won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and Tony Award for Best Play. Shanley directed the 2008 film, which was nominated for five Academy Awards and starred Meryl Streep and Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

Doubt takes place in the Bronx in the fall of 1964, just as the Civil Rights Act has been enacted and the Second Vatican Council of the Catholic Church is modernizing its Mass and other elements. Father Flynn (played by senior radio television and film major Nick Cannon), who is bringing those new changes to the church, raises the suspicions of Sister Aloysius (senior theatre major Lauren Belmore), who believes in the old world Catholic ideas, when he spends time alone in the church rectory with the schools’ only African-American student.

The play brings up issues that are relevant today, said director Andrew B. Harris, professor of theatre history, play analysis and playwriting.

“In the beginning of the play, the priest says doubt can be as strong as faith,” Harris said. “I think the play doesn’t want you to resolve the issues. The ending is quite shattering and makes people think.”

The other actors are senior theatre major Amanda Hopkins, who plays the younger nun Sister James, and junior computer science major Brianna Richardson, who portrays Mrs. Muller, the mother of the student. The 90-minute play has no intermission.

Stage designer Rodney Dobbs, the owner and artistic director of Pocket Sandwich Theatre in Dallas, is experimenting with the set by having the principal’s office and pulpit roll onto the set, instead of a standard set. Senior composition major Daniel Sabzghabaei is working on the music, incorporating Catholic hymns with “We Shall Overcome.”

Harris said guests will have a different experience than the movie.

“Regardless of whether they’ve seen the film, I think audiences will be surprised at how the play unfolds,” Harris said. “The play is stronger than the film because so much of what happens is experienced through the ambiguity of language.  This makes it much more unsettling and creates doubt.”

—Jessica DeLeon, University Relations, Communications and Marketing

Above, Lauren Belmore, left, is the accusatory and distrusting Sister Aloysius who suspects Father Flynn, played by Nick Canon, of wrongdoing, in Doubt. Photo by Amanda Breaz.

Posted on: Tue 09 September 2014

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