by John Patrick Shanley
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eNotes: Table of Contents
1. Doubt: Introduction 2. Doubt: John Patrick Shanley Biography 3. Doubt: Summary 4. Doubt: Characters 5. Doubt: Themes 6. Doubt: Style 7. Doubt: Historical Context 8. Doubt: Critical Overview 9. Doubt: Criticism ♦ David Kelly ♦ Stephen Phillips ♦ Grant Gallicho ♦ Robert Coe 10. Doubt: Topics for Further Study 11. Doubt: What Do I Read Next? 12. Doubt: Bibliography and Further Reading 13. Copyright
John Patrick Shanley's drama Doubt premiered at the Manhattan Theatre Club on November 23, 2004, before moving to Broadway, at the Walter Kerr Theatre, in March of the following year. It instantly became the most celebrated play of the season, taking the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Drama; best new play awards from the New York Drama Critics' Circle, the Lucille Lortel Foundation, the Drama League, the Outer Critics Circle, and the Drama Desk; the Obie; and four Tony Awards (best play, best actress in a play, best featured actress in a play, and best director). The play was published by Theatre Communications Group in 2005.
John Patrick Shanley Evan Agostini/Getty Images Set at a Catholic school in the Bronx in 1964, Doubt concerns an older nun, Sister Aloysius, who does not approve of teachers' offering friendship and compassion over the discipline she feels students need in order to face the harsh world. When she suspects a new priest of sexually abusing a student, she is faced with the prospect of charging him with unproven allegations and possibly destroying his career as well as her own. To help build her case, she asks for help from an idealistic young nun, who finds her faith in compassion challenged, and the mother of the accused boy, who is protective of her son, the first black student ever admitted to St. Nicholas. Beginning in early 2002, the Catholic Church in the United States was embroiled in a high-profile scandal about priests who had had sexual relations with young students and parishioners, some incidents dating as far back as the time in which Shanley's play is set. Hundreds of victims came forward, and the Church, as of 2005, was facing lawsuits and undergoing reorganization, but the shock of the abuse of trust and the Catholic Church's attempts to cover up these crimes have left a scar on the public conscience. Doubt faces the unthinkable aspects of this situation with knowledge and restraint.
Doubt: John Patrick Shanley Biography
John Patrick Shanley was born in New York City in 1950. His father, who grew up on a farm in Ireland, was a meatpacker and his mother a telephone operator. He attended Catholic schools, but with a very unstable record: he was thrown out of kindergarten at St. Helena's, and he was banned for life from the hot-lunch program at St. Anthony's. After he was expelled from Cardinal Spellman High School, a priest who knew him and believed in his intellectual ability arranged for Shanley to attend Thomas More Prep School, a private school in Harrisville, New Hampshire. It was there that he started thinking seriously of a career as a writer. After graduating, he attended New York University, left for a stint in the U.S. Marine Corps, and returned to continue his studies under the GI Bill, graduating in 1977 as valedictorian. Since then, Shanley has had a prolific career writing for the stage and screen. By 2005, he had written twenty-three plays. In 1987, he became internationally famous for his acclaimed script for the movie Moonstruck, for which he won an Academy Award and the Writer's Guild Award and was nominated for a Golden Globe. On that basis, Stephen Spielberg offered Shanley the opportunity to direct a movie from his own...
Bibliography: and Further Reading
Doubt: Topics for Further Study
Brustein, Robert, "Prosecution Plays," in the New Republic, May 23, 2005, p. 27. Isherwood, Charles, "Stories That Tell vs. Storytelling," in the New York Times, May 6, 2005, Section E, p. 1. Zoglin, Richard, "4 Must-See Shows On (and Off) Broadway," in Time, April 25, 2005, p. 56.
Berry, Jason, Lead Us Not into Temptation: Catholic Priests and the Sexual Abuse of Children, University of Illinois Press, 2000. This book, originally published when the abuse story was first surfacing in 1992, is considered a classic in the study of what went wrong with the priesthood in the last half of the twentieth century. Calhoun, Ada, "Bryony Lavery and John Patrick Shanley Dish about Religion," in New York Magazine, September 13, 2004, p. 61. In a joint interview, Shanley and the playwright Bryony Lavery (Last Easter) consider the place that religion has in their works. Foster, David Ruel, ed., The Two Wings of Catholic Thought: Essays on "Fides et Ratio," Catholic University of America Press, 2003. In 1998, Pope John Paul II issued an encyclical, Fides et Ratio, proclaiming that reason and faith do not have to be considered separately but can be found together in Catholicism. The essays in this book examine the implications of that doctrine, which appears as one of the central conundrums of Doubt. Wilson, Anna Victoria, and William E. Segall, Oh, Do I Remember!: Experiences of Teachers during the Desegregation of Austin 's Schools, 1964–1971, State University of New York Press, 2001. The authors repeat testimony of teachers and students who suffered through the awkward phases of including people of color into traditionally white school systems, giving a sense of the division that race can create in an academic setting. Witchel, Alex, "The Confessions of John Patrick Shanley," in the New York Times Magazine, November 7, 2004, pp. 31-35. This article was written at a time when three of Shanley 's plays, including Doubt, were about to open in New York City.
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