40+ Stage Company is proud to open our 2023-2024 season with Doubt by John Patrick Shanley. The year is 1964, the year the Civil Rights Act became law. The story takes place in St. Nicholas Parish, the Bronx, New York. Father Brendan Flynn, after a curious succession of pastoral assignments, is happy in his role as assistant pastor and obviously in line to succeed his aging superior in taking leadership over the flock of parishioners, a position to which he has always aspired. His plans, however, are shaken when a young boy returns to class one afternoon with wine on his breath. Investigation into events establishes that the boy was last seen alone with Fr. Flynn.
Suspicions are aroused in the elementary school principal, Sister Aloysius Beauvier, a woman twenty years senior to Fr. Flynn in age but not in the hierarchy of the church. Determined to build a case on the priest, Sr. Aloysius invites Mrs. Muller, mother of the boy involved, to a meeting with her and explains that her son will no longer be able to attend classes. Mrs. Muller is alarmed. Her son is the only African-American child in St. Nicholas Elementary School. “You got some kind a righteous cause going with this priest, and now you want to drag my boy into it. My son doesn’t need additional difficulties. Let him take the good and leave the rest.” Later in their meeting, she says “You know the rules maybe, but that don’t cover it.” Dismissal of her son will put the boy back into a school where he was bullied and did poorly academically.
Unrelenting, Sr. Aloysius builds her case. When she confronts him, Fr. Flynn is vehement in his denial. He, in turn, criticizes the nun for going outside the organizational channels of the church. The priest is convinced the accusation will end his career and keep him from doing good for the people of the parish. “Please!” he pleads, “Are we people? Am I a person of flesh and blood like you? Or are we just ideas and convictions.”
The stakes are high for all involved in Shanley’s fast-paced drama. Will the child, Donald Muller, be allowed to remain in a school so critical to his education and chances for advancement? Will Sister Aloysius go through with her accusations against Fr. Flynn, unmoved by his pleas for understanding and consideration of the greater good? Doubt, permeates the action of the play, and the wrenching uncertainties in the conflict leave everyone in a troubled state of limbo, including the audience.
Performances are offered Friday and Saturday, September 29th and 30th at 7:30PM; Sunday, October 1st at 2PM, and Friday and Saturday, October 6th & 7th at 7:30PM; Sunday, October 8th at 2PM.
Cast and Crew
John J Hohn, Director
Box Office Information
By Phone: (336) 747-1414), Monday through Friday, 9:00am – 5:00pm
Milton Rhodes Center for the Arts: Monday through Friday, 9:00am – 5:00pm, and one hour prior to performance time.