Doubt, A Parable: Q&A with our director, Ken Hildebrandt!

We can't wait to get started on our next production, Doubt, A Parable by John Patrick Shanley.

To give you a sense of why it was chosen, what you can expect, and where the production is headed before rehearsals even start, we asked our AD (and the director of the production!) Ken Hildebrandt to share his thoughts with all of you!

g7_ken.jpgWhy did you choose this play for Gallery 7? What stood out to you when you read it?

There are a number of reasons I chose Doubt, A Parable for this season. First, it's a Pulitzer Prize-winning play by John Patrick Shanley, a playwright who often explores themes that I think are important to us as a faith-based theatre such as relationships, reconciliation, forgiveness and faith.

Second, the play is incredibly well-written: strong, three-dimensional characters, tight storytelling, explores provocative questions, is filled with gripping and compelling drama, and there's lots of mystery. I think audiences are going to walk away having been entertained, but also challenged in worthwhile and healthy ways. I suspect there will be lot of spirited discussion following the show.

Third, this show explores important ideas regarding faith, and what happens when we experience doubt or questioning. To me, it's an examination of what happens when we let fear of doubts control our actions. It also explores whether doubt is a weakness or a strength and whether we should allow it to be a part of our faith experience.

Fourth, and from a more practical standpoint, since we couldn't secure a time-slot on the main stage at the Abbotsford Arts Centre, I needed to find a play with relatively straight-forward technical and casting demands that would better suit the intimate nature of the Abbotsford Community Arts Addition.

With this venue, we're having to create a performance venue out of what is essentially an empty, rectangular room. I'm excited that we're going back to our roots as a theatre by creating a thrust stage with seating on three sides of the stage to create a much more intimate theatre experience: not only will audiences get to see every nuance of the actor's performance, they will also get to witness their fellow audience members experiencing the show.

Talk about a true, communal experience for all!


How does the play differ from the movie, if at all? Why should someone who has seen the movie come to see the play?


I haven't seen the movie in a long time, and quite frankly, am avoiding watching it until I'm finished directing the show. Sometimes, it's hard to get other people's performances out of your head, and I want our production to be our own unique interpretation.

Having said that, I'll use John Patrick Shanley's own comments on the matter as inspiration in answering your question: in the movie, you have the opportunity to pull the camera back and get a fuller view of the environment in which the story takes place. You also have the opportunity to add in more characters and you can move from scene to scene much more quickly.

The stage is a completely different medium - here, you have the opportunity to focus in on a smaller number of characters - a practical necessity really, especially for professional theatres where the actors are getting paid.

For the stage version, you have the opportunity to limit the number of environments - again, partly a practical necessity but also an artistic one in that audiences are kept focussed on the characters and the story. I think the stage version offers a much more engaging experience of the story. Because the actors are living, breathing people, the emotions are more raw, resulting in a more compelling experience.

The intimacy and focussed nature of the stage version helps create a pressure-cooker feel to the whole experience, resulting in a very compelling and engaging time at the theatre.


The show has been cast - who are they and have we seen any of the cast members before?


I am very excited to be working with such an incredible and talented cast. We've got a good mix of familiar and new faces. You will remember Jay Danziger in previous productions of Shadowlands, The Giver and Freud's Last Session - he's playing Father Flynn - and you'll remember Abigail Kibarita as Babette in last year's production of Beauty and the Beast - she's playing Mrs. Muller. New to our stage is Marit Christensen, who is playing Sister Aloysius and Nicola Prigge, who is playing Sister James.

(Okay, Nicola isn't totally new to G7 - she was the stage manager for our production of Cotton Patch Gospel but this is her first acting gig at G7.)


What makes you excited to get started on Doubt?


I'm super-excited to start digging in to the script with our very talented cast. There are a lot of decisions to be made in terms of character motivations and tactics. We'll be spending a lot of time doing text analysis. Shanley has given us such a well-written script with lots and lots of intriguing character, relationship and story details to be mined and explored.

I'm really looking forward to seeing the cast discover their characters and develop really compelling performances. I'm also super-excited to be working with an amazingly talented design team. It's a dream as a director to be working with such great people!