The Slippery Rock Department of Theatre will open their first show of the season, “Doubt” on Friday, Sept. 25 as a part of their Secrets and Seduction Series for the 2015-2016 season.
Written by John Patrick Shanley, “Doubt” takes place at St. Nicholas School, a Catholic school, in the Bronx of New York City.
Laura Smiley, associate professor of theatre and director of “Doubt”, said without giving too much away, the play’s theme refers right back to the title: doubt.
“When you think about doubt in the bigger picture of life, we always have faith about what we’re doing and then at times we have these feelings of doubt because really, what is certainty,” Smiley said. “Nothing is certain. You have faith about things or people or happenings in your life and when things go wild a little bit, you begin to have to have your doubts and then you go expecting things to happen.”
Kaitlin Cliber, senior theatre and fine arts major plays Sister Aloysius Beauvier in the play. Cliber said her character is in her mid-50’s and early 60’s, which is fun for her to portray because she’s only 21 years old.
Aloysius Beauvier is the principAL at St. Nicholas School and Cliber said she’s very old-school Catholic.
“She comes off very hard and she cares so much about the kids and the school,” Cliber said. “She’s protective of that place [school] and she doesn’t really support change.”
Cliber said this play is very different from other plays that she has done in the past because she gets to play an older character.
Since Cliber is Catholic, she has done a lot of research about the religion and she often thinks about her grandparents when playing her character. She also said she thinks back on how her mother was raised and she tries to channel that in her character.
Sister James is played by freshman theatre acting major, Kristina Streno. Sister James is a 20-year-old teacher at St. Nicholas School and the most positive character of the cast. Streno said she wants to be accepted by Sister Aloysius and she just wants everything be good. Sister James seems to have a close connection with the pastor at St. Nicholas School, Father Flynn, played by Tyler Hahn, junior theatre acting and public relations major. During the play, Father Flynn is accused of inappropriate behavior with another student at the school.
Hahn said the callback process for ‘Doubt’ was a little different than other casting processes.
In an original audition process, the student would come in and read a monologue, then based on their performance, the student would come back for to read another monologue, also know as a callback. When doing callbacks, all the other actors auditioning for that role are in the room as well as the student reads the monologue.
Hahn said callbacks were closed during this audition, meaning the other people up for the role do not see the auditioning actor in callbacks, which Hahn said gives the advantage of the actor not having to see everybody before they read the monologue.
“It allows you to be the actor that you want to be,” he said.
Junior public relations major, Tajionna Anderson-Clinton, plays Mrs. Muller, the mother of the only African American student at the Catholic school, Donald Muller. Although Donald’s name is brought up several times during the play, there is no character for him.
Being her first play, Clinton said the director, Smiley, made her want to audition for ‘Doubt.’ Clinton said she had Smiley during her freshman year for her fundamentals of acting class and she told her about a role for the play ‘Doubt’ and told her to audition. When Clinton did, she got the role.
Smiley said she enjoyed directing this play because the ending is rather ambiguous. She likes the challenge of doing plays with ambiguous endings because she said she believes plays don’t always have to come full circle and provide the audience with a set and dry answer.
“This [play] absolutely falls in line with that because at the end of it, in a literal sense, you wonder who’s telling the truth and in a larger sense, I hope you walk away thinking about your faith and doubts and what is certain and are there any things you feel completely certain about that maybe aren’t so certain anymore.”
Smiley said this play will relate to college students because during their years in college, students often have faith, doubt and certainty because they are all contemplating about where to go and what to do after graduation and their career path.
“All those questions are going through your mind and you have ideas about where you’re going to go, only you have doubts about where you’re going to go and life takes you on a particular path, and you don’t know what that path is, even if you think you do,” she said.
‘Doubt’ opens on Friday, Sept. 25 at 7:30 p.m. in the Old University Union Multipurpose Room and will run through Oct. 1. Tickets are $7 with an SRU ID and $12 for the general public.
Following the play on Monday, Sept. 28 and Wednesday, Sept. 30, the Slippery Rock Department of Theatre with the Gender Studies Program will have post show discussions about the questions of doubt and issues of race and gender.