In the second part of our Meet the Artist Series on Doubt: A Parable, we asked the cast questions about their roles and the process of bringing this play to life. Here are their answers!
Given the subject of the play, did you find it harder to rehearse than other roles you’ve had in the past?
Barbara (Sister Aloysius): Several years ago I was cast in a production of a play that dealt directly with the trial of Cardinal Law in Boston. The research that I did for that production was intense and very difficult, but that research reinforces the work that I am doing in Doubt and provides a richer background for my character.
Robert Kauzlaric (Father Flynn): Honestly, this a particularly rewarding piece to dig into and work on. Approaching Father Flynn as a character has its own set of challenges, due to the way in which Shanley has left the question of “What exactly happened?” essentially unanswered. The whole point of the piece is to make the audience wrestle with that question, so he leaves the actor to make their own decisions about Father Flynn’s truth.
What is the most rewarding part of being in this cast and this show?
Barbara (Sister Aloysius): I love this cast and we have been having a great time discussing the era in which this play takes place, reminiscing on what it was like to be in school and our various experiences with religion. Sister Aloysius is very different from me and her convictions are challenging to my core beliefs. Navigating the emotional journey that she traverses and tries to control is an exciting challenge.
Jazzma Pryor (Mrs. Muller): The most rewarding part of being in this cast is the opportunity to work with a completely new company and group of talented artists. The most rewarding part of being in this show is bringing to life such a layered character as Mrs. Muller. She only appears in one scene, but her presence is significant and vital to the weight of each character’s story.
What is your rehearsal and performance process leading up to the debut of Doubt?
Barbara (Sister Aloysius): Rehearsing is one of the best parts of being an actor. Between actual rehearsals and the homework to learn lines and explore the character of Sister Aloysius, I am always working on the show. This is what I do and it is very exciting. When I come home at night, it takes me a good hour and a half to wind down because my adrenaline is flowing and my mind is processing all that we have explored.
Robert Kauzlaric (Father Flynn): There’s never enough time! We start with a period of “table work” where we read and talk and question and share ideas, impressions, and research with each other. Then we move onto our feet and begin making choices. And discoveries. Then we add the audience—our final partners in the process—and it becomes theater.
Jazzma Pryor (Mrs. Muller): Even if I’m doing a show for the 30th time, there is someone in the audience seeing it for the first time with fresh eyes. So, by continuing to honor my character and the story presented on stage, I am able to bring dignity to the performance and entertainment to the masses.
What do you hope the audience takes away from this show?
Barbara (Sister Aloysius): Wow, that is a tough one. I hope that the audience continues to discuss this play and how we all have elements of these characters in our lives.
Robert Kauzlaric (Father Flynn): I hope the audience leaves the play really wrestling with its ideas and questions. There’s so much packed into this very short play, and my hope is that people respond to the material with curiosity and not fall back on quick judgments of any of the characters or circumstances. We’re in a cultural moment of finger-pointing and aggressive moral certitude and this story asks us, frankly, to sit in a fairly uncomfortable place: a place of doubt.
Jazzma Pryor (Mrs. Muller): I hope the audience leaves questioning what they thought they knew. Sometimes things are just as they appear and sometimes they are not.
What advice would you give to aspiring actors?
Robert Kauzlaric (Father Flynn): Find your voice, and cultivate your curiosity. Explore and discover what makes you unique, what your perspective is, what you have to offer, and what sorts of stories excite you. The more of you there is in your art and craft, the more specific and special it will be.
Jazzma Pryor (Mrs. Muller): Don’t give up! This is a career of passion. I’ve been told no more times than I can count, but there isn’t time to dwell in the rejection. Learn from it, shake it off, and get to that next audition.
Many thanks to the cast for their answers and all their hard work in bringing this play to DPAC. Be sure to get your tickets for Doubt: A Parable February 28-29 at 7:30 p.m., and be ready to be challenged, pushed, and questioned by these talented actors.
Irish Theatre of Chicago presents Doubt, A Parable
John Patrick Shanley’s award-winning drama tests the murky depths of moral certainty, leaving you to wrestle with the weight of your doubts. Stay after the play for a conversation about some of the influences and decisions that designed the production.