Playwriting Production

Doubt

” You’re the one forcing people to say these things out loud. There are things in the air and you leave them alone if you can. That’s what I know.

In a couple of weeks I’ll be taking an adjudicating course. We’ll be seeing four plays, one of which is Doubt by John Patrick Shanley.

Cherry Jones & Brian F. O’Byrne

Up to this point, I had never read the play. I remember Cherry Jones speech from the Tony’s that year,I certainly saw all the publicity for the movie version. Frankly, I had been actively avoiding it. I wasn’t all that up to another intense drama yell fest. The earnest priest pedophile versus the one dimensional stern nun.

So, how glad am I that it’s one of the plays featured in the course and I had to read it. Surprisingly, intensely, intensely glad. Doubt very well be one of my favourite plays. Ever. I think it’s extremely well written with a keen sense of the need for variety of tone. I’m not sure of another more subtler character than Sister Aloysius. There was a point I actually said ‘whoaaaaaaaa’ out loud while reading. It is a subtle, unexpected piece of theatre. I loved it.

Every playwriting should read Doubt, to see what a well crafted play looks like on the page to see it unfold with every turn of the page. Every beginner playwright should experience this script one on one. Just you and the words. Seeing plays are one thing but there’s something very magical about reading them as well. You see the intention of the playwright so clearly. You see every pause and every piece of punctuation.

Meryl Streep & Phillip Seymour Hoffman

Of course, plays do not end with the page. The page is only the beginning. So, I’m interested to see how the production is going to interpret Doubt. Because I can see lots, and lots, and lots of room for errors in judgement. There could be a lot of yelling and one dimensional nuns. I both love and hate (only not really) the fact that Doubt is like walking a tightrope. Love because you have to work hard with this one. You have to work at staying on the wire, with laser like focus to character and story. And hate because I suspect so many productions fall off and offer sub-standard fare. I would so hate to see a fallen version of this great script.

The proof will be in the puddling. I’ll let you know how things turn out in a couple of weeks….

About the author

Lindsay Price