Joseph Szekeres

Faith overcomes doubt in moment of trial

By 
  • October 10, 2015

“Where there is doubt, faith.”

Joseph Szekeres takes inspiration from this particular line in St. Francis of Assisi’s prayer of peace, and it has come in handy as he directs Borelians Community Theatre’s new production of the play Doubt: A Parable, which will be performed at Port Perry’s Town Hall starting Oct. 15.
Szekeres said that as a practising Catholic, Doubt: A Parable speaks to a very human aspect of his faith.

“The play deals with some sensitive issues... Much like our Catholic faith, we’ll be faced with moments of trial,” he said. “We’ll be faced with moments where we question something. But our faith sees us through any kind of turmoil, any kind of trouble in our life.”

The stage play is set in a fictional Catholic school in the Bronx in the fall of 1964. Sr. James, a young Sister of Charity, suspects Fr. Flynn has an inappropriate relationship with one of the students, Donald Muller. Sr. Aloysius, the head nun and principal of the school, meets with Mrs. Muller about the issue, then later confronts Fr. Flynn himself about these rumours. With no actual proof, the audience is left with its own doubt.

Many will know of the play from its Oscar-nominated film adaptation with Philip Seymour Hoffman, Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. Although there are many similar elements to its Hollywood counterpart, Szekeres said the tone of the Tony Award-winning play is totally different.

One of the things he felt was missing in the film was Sr. Aloysius’ quick wit. Szekeres said it was Sr. Aloysius’ witty moments that heightened the drama of the story. The play is much lighter in tone because of it.

“That was the one thing about the film that I didn’t care for was the fact that even though the film was very dark, they left out some of the moments from the story that, they’re not rip-roaring kind of things, but.... in the stage play, there’s a great deal of wit there,” said Szekeres.

When Szekeres is not directing and performing in community theatre, he works as a Catholic school teacher/librarian in the Durham Catholic District School Board. His passion for English literature and dramatic works is what drives his passion for this play.

At its heart, Szekeres believes the story is a respectful tribute to men and women in religious life. The play was written with reverence for the life of service that men and women religious have chosen.

“John Patrick Hanley, who has written the play, he has a great deal of respect for the nuns,” said Szekeres. “What he has said is that they are selfless individuals... They gave their lives to their communities.”

In preparing the cast and crew for this production, Szekeres said it was important for him and the cast to really understand the parameters in which the play is set. He did research on pre-Vatican II to better understand the historical context of the time.

“When we do community theatre, it’s an opportunity for growth,” he said. “All the actors that perform in the play are non-professional. We just enjoy putting on good productions... and especially with Doubt: A Parable, it allows us to really look at an issue.”

On Oct. 23, the Association of Community Theatre will be holding a special adjudication performance night where a public adjudicator will engage the audience in a discussion about the play at the end of the evening.

“(The adjudicator) will talk about moments of the play that worked well and what didn’t. They’ll probably give a history of the play, too,” said Szekeres. “It’s a learning process for anyone who’s involved in community theatres now.”

Doubt: A Parable will be performed at Port Perry’s Town Hall from Oct. 15-24. For performance schedules and more details, visit borelians.ca.

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