Whenever I tell people I’m going to be directing Doubt: A Parable in a church, they say “wow!” in a mix of surprise and intrigue.
If they know the play or the movie, they begin to think about what it means to see it performed there. Walking up the driveway to the large wooden doors, climbing the interior staircase, seeing into the sanctuary on your way up: all of it is going to put audiences into a different mindset than a traditional theater.
My first thought on visiting Glencoe Union Church to explore staging the play there was, “what a friendly, open and Protestant church.” Which is not the sort of church that Doubt takes place in. My designers and I wanted to give the room the sense of authority that a pre-Vatican II Catholic church and school would have had in the early ’60s.
We’ve chosen to add screens on the stage to create the feel of a chancel area, where only the priest was allowed to go. The screens are also designed to evoke Catholic confessional booths.
There are several existing architectural details to the Great Hall that I couldn’t resist featuring. The stained glass windows at the rear will be very present. The tall windows on the west side of the room will also be used. We’ve taken inspiration from the original woodwork in the room and added a wood floor to match. The paintwork we are doing is based on the woodwork too. ■