Irish Theatre of Chicago Presents Timely Play With Familiar Cast Consonant with the 2019–2020 Notre Dame Forum “Rebuild My Church,” the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center Presenting Series is thrilled to announce the Irish Theatre of Chicago (ITC) production of Doubt, A Parable. This Forum campus event is the winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and Tony Award for Best Play. John Patrick Shanley’s Irish-American classic has a limited run, Friday, February 28, and Saturday, February 29, at 7:30 p.m.
Directed by ITC Interim Artistic Director JR Sullivan, in this brilliant and powerful drama, Bronx Catholic-school principal Sister Aloysius takes matters into her own hands when she suspects young Father Flynn of improper relations with one of his male students — an African-American child new to the parish school.
For Sullivan, Doubt resonates on a personal and professional level. Between 1957–1963, he lived in South Bend’s Walnut Grove complex just off Jefferson Boulevard and then at Notre Dame Avenue and Corby Boulevard in Harter Heights. Sullivan attended Saint Joseph Grade School when “there may have been one or maybe two African-American students in my class.” Despite living in a diverse neighborhood and having parents active in the civil rights movement, he remembered the isolation of his classmates as the ensemble’s creative process began.
“It occurred to me when we were reading the play, and Sister Aloysius charged that Father Flynn was targeting this child because he was in need of a friend. Then the mother, Mrs. Muller, talks about her son needing a protector. And, perhaps, that Sister Aloysius was assuming something that wasn’t necessarily true is an important dramaturgical moment in the play,” Sullivan said.
Being the company’s fourth Presenting Series production, audiences will see familiar faces in the cast. The star of 2018’s My Brilliant Divorce, Barbara Figgins, dons the habit of the suspicious Sister Aloysius. This production’s Father Flynn, Rob Kauzlaric, appeared as Mojo in 2019’s Mojo Mickybo. Jazzma Pryor will play the role of Mrs. Muller in her first performance with the Irish Theatre of Chicago.
For Sullivan, directing Doubt for ITC at Notre Dame is more than a homecoming. He laughingly recalled exploring campus and scouting for football tickets with his brother. He then fondly shared the story of how the University’s legendary American Studies professor Tom Schlereth co-sponsored his 1974 one-person show at Washington Hall about the journalist and writer Ben Hecht. At the time going by Jim Sullivan, he was just a few years out of college and but already founded his own repertory company, the New American Theater.
Now, in a way he’s come full circle, happy to again fulfill a request made of him by the folks at DPAC to extend the conversation around this year’s Forum theme. “This is a play that I’ve always loved. I just love how it engages and surprises and still does. I think even for people who have some experience with it,” said Sullivan.
The Center’s presentation of Doubt, A Parable is co-sponsored by the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies and Notre Dame Film, Television, and Theatre. It is also made possible by the Thomas M. Hagerty Family Performing Arts Endowment for Excellence and the Peg and Rick Golden Endowment for Excellence.
About the Team
JR Sullivan (Director) is a nationally recognized director, actor, producer, and writer. Before joining ITC, Sullivan was the Artistic Director of the acclaimed off-Broadway Pearl Theatre Company, which earned a Drama Desk Award under his tenure. Sullivan was also the founder and producing director of the lauded New American Theater in northern Illinois and served as associate artistic director for Utah Shakespeare Festival from 2002-2009, where he continues as a visiting director. In Chicago, Sullivan has directed for Northlight Theatre, American Theatre Company, Turnaround, A Red Orchid Theatre, Live Bait Theatre, Prop Theatre, and the Onyx Theatre.
His regional work includes the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, Theatre X, Philadelphia’s Arden Theatre, the Studio Theatre in Washington D.C., the Delaware Theatre Company, and the Resident Ensemble Players at the University of Delaware. His adaptations (in collaboration with Joseph Hanreddy) of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE and SENSE AND SENSIBILITY have been produced at regional houses nationwide, including Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, the Oregon and Utah Shakespeare festivals, South Coast Repertory Theater, Round House Theatre, People’s Light & Theater Company, The Cincinnati Playhouse, and Connecticut Rep.
Barbara Figgins (Sister Aloysius) has appeared in MY BRILLIANT DIVORCE (Jeff Nomination – Best Solo Performance) IN PIGEON HOUSE, THE SHADOW OF A GUNMAN, DANCING AT LUGHNASA, OUR FATHER, SCENES FROM THE BIG PICTURE, WAR, and BOLD GIRLS. Other Chicago work includes the world premiere of Ike Holter’s EXIT STRATEGY with Jackalope Theatre, HEDDA GABLER at Writer’s Theatre, TWELFTH NIGHT for City Lit, OTHELLO, ROMEO & JULIET, MACBETH, TAMING OF THE SHREW, and JULIUS CAESAR for Crew of Patches; WHAT’S WRONG WITH ANGRY, and NINE at Circle Theatre; and SIN: A CARDINAL DEPOSED, SOUTHERN BAPTIST SISSIES, and A BEE IN HER SONNET for Bailiwick Repertory.
Locally, Barbara has also worked with Hell in a Handbag, Victory Gardens Theatre, Remy Bumppo, Next Theatre, Collaboraction, Backstage Theatre, Chicago Jewish Theatre and Infamous Commonwealth, and her regional work includes the Kenley Players in Ohio, The MUNY in St. Louis and the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera. Her TV work includes Showtime’s THE CHI and CHICAGO JUSTICE for NBC. Actors Talent Group represents her. She has been an ensemble company member with the Irish Theatre of Chicago since 2005.
Robert Kauzlaric (Father Flynn) has appeared with Irish Theatre Of Chicago as Mush in A WHISTLE IN THE DARK, Denis in WAR, Oscar in OUR FATHER, Mojo in MOJO MICKYBO, and Walter in IN A LITTLE WORLD OF OUR OWN, and he directed the world premiere of Karen Tarjan’s THE WHITE ROAD (Jeff Award nomination: Best Production).
Other regional acting credits include work with the Michigan Shakespeare Festival, Illinois Shakespeare Festival, Lakeside Shakespeare, Goodman Theatre, Lifeline Theatre, Strawdog Theatre, The Hypocrites, City Lit, Circle Theatre, Greasy Joan & Co., and New American Theater. Robert has written more than a dozen theatrical adaptations that have been performed in more than forty states across the U.S., as well as in Australia, Canada, England, Germany, Ireland, and Wales.
His plays include THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU (winner of five Non-Equity Jeff Awards, including New Adaptation and Best Production), NORTHANGER ABBEY (with George Howe, Non-Equity Jeff Award: New Work – Musical), NEVERWHERE (Non-Equity Jeff Award: New Adaptation), and THE TRUE STORY OF THE 3 LITTLE PIGS! (with Paul Gilvary and William Rush, “One of the best children’s shows of the year” – New York Times). Directing credits include CYMBELINE for Strawdog Theatre (Non-Equity Jeff nomination: Director-Play); and TARTUFFE (Wilde Award: Best Comedy), LOVE’S LABOUR’S LOST (Wilde Award: Best of the Bard), CYMBELINE (Wilde Award: Best of the Bard), AS YOU LIKE IT (Wilde Award: Best of the Bard), and THE TEMPEST for the Michigan Shakespeare Festival. He’s been an ensemble member since 2006.
Margaret Kellas (Sister James) is elated to be working with Irish Theatre of Chicago for the first time. Chicago credits include LETTERS HOME, INNOVATION NATION, FRINDLE (Griffin Theatre Company); BLOOMSDAY (u/s Remy Bumppo); NON-PLAYER CHARACTER (Red Theater Chicago); ELMIRA (First Floor Theater); FACELESS (u/s Northlight); RED BOWL AT THE JEFFS (The Sound); AS YOU LIKE IT, MACBETH (Midsommer Flight). Margaret holds a BFA from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
Jazzma Pryor (Mrs. Muller) is honored to be cast in her first role with the Irish Theatre of Chicago. Other Chicago stage credits include Victory Gardens Theatre’s THE BLACK MONOLOGUES, Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre productions of SUNSET BABY and FROM THE MISSISSIPPI DELTA, HANNAH AND MARTIN and CRIME AND PUNISHMENT for Shattered Globe Theatre.
IRISH THEATRE OF CHICAGO PRESENTS DOUBT, A PARABLE
Sister Aloysius is sure young Father Flynn keeps a monstrous secret. Armed with nothing but her conviction, she sets out to bring him down. Shanley’s award-winning drama tests the murky depths of moral certainty, leaving you to wrestle with the weight of your doubts.
Friday, February 28––Saturday, February 29 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday’s performance offers American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation.