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The Last Performance in Eastern’s Harry Hope Theatre

Published on November 11, 2015

The Last Performance in Eastern’s Harry Hope Theatre

From Oct. 27 to Nov. 1, the Performing Arts Department and Drama Society at Eastern Connecticut State University presented “A Doubt, A Parable,” the last production to be performed in the Harry Hope Theatre. In January 2016, the Theatre Program will move into facilities in the new Fine Arts Instructional Center.

Despite being the last production to be presented in the Harry Hope Theatre, “A Doubt, A Parable” marks Theater Professor Alycia Bright Holland’s debut as the director of a dramatic play. “I was interested in telling this story for many reasons, but mainly to provide us all an opportunity to think about our relationship to certainty,” said Bright Holland. “Unlike intransigence, I believe that doubt is a malleable place from which to begin any shared healing process. Doubt promotes curiosity, discovery and inquiry, rather than dormancy, idleness and complacency. And it is questioning that reveals answers. Doubt is expansive, whereas certainty can have a way of damming up human potential, or foreclosing possibilities.”

“I feel honored to have performed in the production that will mark the close of the Harry Hope Theatre,” said psychology and theater major Stephanie Madden ’16, who played Sister James in the play. “I spent many, many hours in the Harry Hope Theatre in my four years at Eastern. The first time I performed in the Harry Hope was the fall of my freshman year, so I was unfamiliar with the theatre and was unsure what it was going to be like. Now, as a senior I couldn’t have wished for a better way to end my senior year and my time in the Harry Hope Theatre.”

The intense and thought-provoking production also offered students and faculty the opportunity to collaborate as members of an artistic team. Maureen McDonnell, associate professor of English and director of women’s and gender studies, performed as Sister Aloysius. “I enjoyed that Alycia established a collaborative environment for us,” said McDonnell. “I value the work of everyone in the cast and team.”

Corey Lorraine, as Father Flynn, and Charliece Salters as Mrs. Muller, rounded out the cast. The themes explored in the production — predominantly the relationship between certainty and doubt as well as the exploration of power versus submission — left the cast, crew and audience with more questions than answers, each having their own unique interpretation of the meaning behind the production. “I appreciate the ambiguity within the play.  There isn’t a definitive answer about how innocent people are, or a moral about the various compromises the characters make,” said McDonnell. “For actors, that ambiguity is an interesting aspect to explore.”

“There are many themes and messages within “Doubt, A Parable” that we discussed as a cast but I felt most connected to the theme of power vs. submission,” said Madden. “It is prevalent within the characters and even down to the setting, highlighting both racial and gender inequalities in the 1960s.”

“A Doubt, A Parable” marks a continuum of the Performing Arts Department’s commitment to exposure, engagement and enlightenment for all who work on and witness the shows. As the last show in the Harry Hope Theatre, this production highlights the Theatre program’s on-going quest to explore the human condition as well as the liberal arts mission at Eastern Connecticut State University.

Written by Jolene Potter