‘Doubt’ asks, audience answers

Can a play provoke thought without influencing the audience?

That is one aim of the cast of “Doubt: A Parable,” by John Patrick Shanley, on stage at CAST. Judie Hanel directs.

“Our goal is to present the information without skewing the perspective of the audience,” said Joe Garoutte, who plays Father Brendan Flynn, a priest accused of a terrible wrong.

Desiree Amyx-Mackintosh portrays the stern Sister Aloysius and Isabel Martin plays Sister James in the story, set at a Catholic school in The Bronx in 1964 on the cusp of the Second Vatican Council.

Sister Aloysius does not approve of teachers who offer friendship and compassion instead of the discipline she feels students need in order to face a difficult world. When she suspects Father Flynn of an unspeakable crime, she is faced with the prospect of charging him with unproved allegations and possibly destroying his position as well as her own.

Also in the cast is Linda Kaplan of White Salmon, who has one scene, a powerful and pivotal one, with Amyx-Mackintosh.

Martin, 17, said, “My theme is that everyone responds differently when put in a situation of doubt and uncertainty.

“One of the most interesting things about James is how she represents the gray area in all of us.

“Nothing is black and white, no matter how much Father Flynn and Sister Aloysius think it is,” Martin said. “There is always a gray in whatever people face.”

Garoutte said, “The message is it’s okay to doubt, and take the time to consider. We jump so quickly as a society to convict people and move from conviction to fact rather than to find out the facts.”

Amyx-Mackintosh called it “a wonderful experience” playing the stern, unforgiving Sister Aloysius, who when told that the students in her school live in fear of her, replies with a satisfied smile and the comment, “Yes, that’s how it works.”

“It’s the best role ever. I enjoy finding the characters who are so very different from myself,” said Amyx-Mackintosh.

Amyx-Mackintosh tried to understand Aloysius’s lack of empathy, even in the face of admitting to Father Flynn that she had at least once committed mortal sin. “Where is your compassion?” Flynn asks her and she responds, “Someplace where you can’t get at it.”

Ultimately, her war with Flynn seems to be a private one that she cannot fully explain, beyond her personal certainty and “experience” with what she sees as the darker side of clergy behavior. In this, Amyx-Mackintosh said, Aloysius manipulates the underling nun, as well as manipulating Flynn “in trying to get Father Flynn to say something” to incriminate himself.

The scenes where she confronts him bring out every aching, rasping piece of emotional friction between the two.

The sister’s blistering certainty, Amyx-Mackintosh points out, is distilled in her statement that “I know. I have experience,” when asked how she is so sure Father Flynn has done wrong.

“Doubt” raises troubling questions, while providing no answers, in a denouement that is both somber and shattering.

Sister Aloysius is certainly no villain, and at the play’s conclusion it feels as if Father Flynn would the one who would pity her the most.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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