Doubt, Faith & Conviction
Panel members include distinguished experts from Syracuse University, Le Moyne College, and area organizations.
“Doubt can be a bond as powerful and sustaining as certainty.” – Doubt
(Syracuse’ NY) Following the final performance of Doubt on March 2, a discussion about the nature of Doubt, Faith & Conviction will take place from 3:45-5:00 p.m., led by an esteemed panel of community members. This event will take place in the Sutton Pavilion at Syracuse Stage, 820 East Genesee Street. It is free of charge and open to the public.
The discussion on Doubt, Faith & Conviction will explore questions raised by playwright John Patrick Shanley. Nicknamed “Bard of the Bronx,” Shanley is the Academy Award-winning writer of the film Moonstruck, and he recently directed a film version of Doubt that will be released December 2008 starring Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Moderating the discussion is Robert Van Gulick, department chair and professor of philosophy in The College of Arts and Sciences at Syracuse University. The five person panel includes Father Linus DeSantis from St. Thomas More Campus Ministry at the Alibrandi Catholic Center at SU; M. Gail Hamner, associate professor and future professoriate program director of the religion department in SU’s College of Arts and Sciences; Melody Holmes, director of Jail Ministry, a grassroots organization affiliated with Catholic Charities of Onondaga County; Robert Flower, associate professor of philosophy at Le Moyne College; and Cecil Abrahams, professor of cultural foundations of education & English in SU’s College of Arts and Sciences. Kyle Bass, Literary Associate at Syracuse Stage, will host the event.
Panelists will each have an opportunity to share their expert opinions on topics including doubt as a prerequisite for faith and the difference between faith and conviction. Members of the audience will also be invited to ask questions and share their opinions.
The story of Doubt takes place against the backdrop of the Cold War, shortly after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, during the desegregation of schools and in the midst of Pope John XXIII’s reformative Vatican II. With great change can come feelings of doubt, evidenced by the central conflict between the two main characters in the play.
Set in a Bronx Catholic school in 1964, Doubt explores what happens when a strict principal, Sister Aloysius, comes to believe that a popular young priest has engaged in inappropriate conduct with a male student. Sister Aloysius has no evidence, but is certain that the priest, Father Flynn, is guilty. What follows is a dynamic mono e mono fueled by Shanley’s thought-provoking, witty dialogue that tests the boundaries of religion, faith, community and truth. Is Sister Aloysius protecting the children in her care, or is she engaged in the unfair persecution of a wrongly accused man?
Playwright Shanley offers no easy answers. “I do not profess to know the end of the play,” he said during an interview with NPR. “The end of the play takes place after the play is over, when you go out and have a drink and you have a fight with your wife about what happened.” He continues with the advice, “You may want to be sure. Look down on that feeling. We’ve got to learn to live with a full measure of uncertainty.”