Artistic Director of The WordPlayers, Terry Weber, answers some tough questions regarding the upcoming drama, Doubt, A Parable.
Question 1: Your website indicates that Doubt, A Parable is recommended for ages 15+, because it “contains adult themes which may not be suitable or enjoyable for younger patrons.” This show might seem to some like an odd choice for a company of Christian theatre artists. How do you explain this choice?
Terry: Doubt, A Parable is inspired partially by the child sexual abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church which was perpetrated by a small number of priests and often covered up for years by certain members of that church’s hierarchy. Communities of faith face crises from time to time. People of faith sometimes find themselves in extremely difficult circumstances. Producing a play which explores how certain Christians deal with such a time makes perfect sense for a company like The WordPlayers.
Question 2: Is some sort of sexual abuse actually portrayed in the play?
Terry: Not at all. In fact, it’s possible that no abuse is occurring at all in the play. The priest is suspected of it, but there’s no proof. And that’s really more of what the play is about. At its heart, this play is a debate, wrapped inside a classic “did-he-or-didn’t-he” plot. It is also a story which explores how people in a community of faith might respond when long-held trust begins to break down. Perhaps it’s even a story about the ethics of combating evil. Is some form of sin acceptable in order to combat another more dangerous sin? The audience is likely to be left with nagging doubt. Unlike most parables, this one is messy and unclear – kind of like reality
Question 3: The WordPlayers’ vision is “a community uplifted by excellent, Christ-centered art, where artists are freed to develop and use their God-given talents in a positive environment founded on Christian principles and values.” How is Doubt, A Parable Christ-centered art?
Terry: The WordPlayers has rarely, if ever, produced a play with subject matter that is as uncomfortable as this; yet we felt compelled to undertake it. In the world of the play itself, one could argue that Christ should be the center, but isn’t. While all the characters purport to be followers of Christ, much of the time they seem to be following the urges of self-interest, power, prejudice, pleasure, protection, the need to be “right,”or some combination thereof. The Way of Christ isn’t promised to be an easy one (in fact, just the opposite), and this story portrays characters who are either really struggling (mostly failing) to stay connected to Christ, or who have sinfully and deliberately left the path altogether.
In the world of the rehearsal hall and the theatre itself; that is, in the making of the play, we believe in creating a community marked by humility and grace. We believe that the exercise of our art is a spiritual pursuit that includes diligent work, fearless learning, and loving collaboration. We believe Christ is in the center of that environment.
Question 4: Is there anything else you would like people to know about this production?
Terry: We are blessed that Carol Mayo Jenkins has agreed to join our cast as Sister Aloysius. Carol is a Knoxville native, and has professionally played leading roles all over the world in some of the greatest plays in our language. She is a treasure of the American theatre. Sister Aloysius is a role that Carol has dreamed of playing since the play premiered in New York in 2005. When a great actress has great desire for a great role in a great play, if those circumstances come to pass, as they now do, one has the rare chance to witness something truly sublime.