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A theater performance challenges students’ perspective of doubt

Photo by: Henoc Kivuye

The theater department at Oklahoma Christian University will put on a play that reveals the emotion of doubt in a controversial portrayal.

This play provides the constant struggle between a priest and a nuns after she begins to suspect the priest has been violating a young male student.

Associate Professor of Communications and Theater Phil Reagan will be both play and technical director of this show. The play was cast in December, and rehearsals started at the beginning of the spring semester on Jan. 8.

“We’ve been working on this show going on six weeks, which is longer than the amount of time we usually work on productions,” Reagan said. “It’s a show that takes time because even though there are only four actors, they had a lot more work to do.”

According to Reagan, the play is a great show for college students because they will learn that it is OK to have doubts.

“I think they’ll really enjoy it,” Reagan said.  “It’s sort of a mystery-dramedy. The answers are hard to come by, and we hope that when the audience leaves, the play will challenge their assumptions.”

According to Assistant Professor of Bible Charles Rix, there is always an audible gasp in the audience at the end of the play. He said the play doesn’t resolve, and you want it to.

“I think it’s the best play that’s been written in years,” Rix said.  “I’m excited to see it because it makes us think about the way in which we form judgments. What are the cues we pick up in a situation? Because a lot of times we hear about things that happened and we don’t really know, but yet we still form judgments.”

Sophomore Tiffany Evans plays the mother of the child that the principal thinks is being violated by the priest.

“When she goes into a meeting with the principal, she thinks they’re going to be on the same side, but by the end of the meeting she learns that they’re not on the same side at all,” Evans said. “But she still tries to convince the principal to let her son stay in school.”

According to Evans, it’s been a challenge trying to portray the role of a mother in her mid thirties.

“I’m only 19,” Evans said. “This character comes from a hard background. She had an abusive husband. I don’t know what that’s like. I kind of have to take things from my personal life and find emotion to portray the role, even though I can’t relate to what she’s gone through.”

Evans said the show is powerful, and thinks that everyone should go see it.

“It’s a very good play,” Evans said. “It’s really a lot funnier than I thought. I was actually cracking up when we were going through it the first couple of times. You’ll laugh, you may or may not cry, but you’ll definitely get worked up.”

Junior Wesley Aspey, who oversees all set building for Oklahoma Christian stage productions, has read the play several times.

“With this play, there’s some times when a lot of it falls on the priest character because sometimes it’s directed in such a way that the audience thinks that the priest committed the crime,” Aspey said. “The trick with this production is to make it a parable about doubt as much as possible.”

Freshman Andrew Leingang, who plays the role of Father Flynn, said he is eager to see the audience’s reaction.

“I just think it’s going to be entertaining,” Leingang said. “The subject is kind of out there. Pedophilia is not really talked about, especially at a Christian campus like OC. I think it’s going to be interesting. The other actors in the show are really good, and we play off of each other really well.”

Although Leingang plays a priest being accused of pedophilia, that hasn’t been his hardest challenge with the role.

“I’ve had to grow out my fingernails and that really bothers me,” Leingang said. “I’m one of those people who really like their fingernails short. There’s a little part in the play that talks about me having long fingernails and how one of the nuns is disgusted.

Senior Hannah Foster plays the role of Sister Aloysius. She is the principal of the school who tries to find out whether or not the priest is guilty.

“She has a good heart with the best of intentions,” Foster said. “She’s very determined to protect her school and the nuns that serve under her. But at times her methods can be a little questionable.”

Both Evans and Leingang agree with Foster that working with the other cast members has been a great experience with all of the chemistry between them.

“I’ve had a lot of fun getting to know the other two better because I kind of already knew Sandra [Peck who plays Sister James],” Foster said. “There have been several times where Sandra or AJ would do something or say a line back to me, and it’ll catch me so off guard because I’m so caught up in what a good job they’re doing.”

According to Foster, this is her first time playing such a serious role. She’s more accustomed to fulfilling character roles in which she wears dresses and curly hair.

“It’s been a difficult adjustment, but I’ve loved it, and that’s what attracted me so much to the play,” Foster said. “It’s nothing like anything I’ve ever done. So, I think cultivating that character and figuring out how to play that role has been the biggest challenge for me.”

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