Anthony R. Johnson, who is playing the male lead as Father Brendan Flynn, in Lyric Arts’ upcoming production of “Doubt, A Parable” was able to share some thoughts on his experience with "Doubt.” Please read below
LA: Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
ARJ: I have a BFA in Theater from the University of Minnesota – Duluth. After graduating college my wife and I lived in London for a while before moving back to the Twin Cities to pursue a career in theater. I spent a few years working as an actor at places like the Illusion Theater and The Great American History Theater, along with doing some film and television work. Once I got married I decided to settle down and get a “real job” and became an advertising copywriter. I continued to indulge my love of theater by directing shows for a number of different theaters in the area. After having twin daughters 3 years ago, I set aside my theatrical pursuits to concentrate on my family. Doubt marks my return to the stage after a nearly 5-year absence.
LA: Tell us a little bit about why this particular show interested you.
ARJ: First of all it’s an amazing script. "Doubt" is so wonderfully written that even now, nearly 2-months in, I am finding new and exciting things in the subtleness of the story. "Doubt" is a story for the ages. It may seem like a small story set at this one moment in time but it really cuts to the heart of how we as a society can be so quick to judge someone based on what others lead us to believe. With reality television and 24 hour news it seems judgment has become a spectator sport. Secondly, the role of Father Flynn is one of those roles of a lifetime. Especially for me. I tend to be attracted to the misunderstood outsiders. I love characters whose earnestness and need to do good somehow becomes a liability. LA: "Doubt" was a recent blockbuster hit, for those that have seen the movie why should they come and see the stage version?
ARJ: Film tends to be a passive, solitary art form. With live theater you are an active participant. You share this experience with everyone around you. And this is a play that begs to be experienced live. The tension and emotion are so raw; it’s going to be a very visceral event. Besides this is a play that is open to so much interpretation. Honestly I haven’t seen the movie, but I bet there are a lot of things that we are interpreting differently, so this production should be a whole different experience then watching the film. LA: Many people think that "Doubt" just centers on an abuse scandal in a church. Is that true? If not, what is the show about?
ARJ: Like the title says, this is a parable. A modern day morality play. At one point Father Flynn says, “You make up stories to illustrate.” And that is what John Patrick Shanley has done. He’s taken this challenging, charged story and used it illustrate a point about our society as a whole. The point is to generate debate. Real debate, where people actually listen to one another and try to understand the other persons point of view. LA: Has this show challenged you? If so, in what ways different from other show you have been involved with?
ARJ: "Doubt" is definitely a challenging show for an actor. I think for all four of us. There are layers of subtly that have to be explored to get to the truth of every moment. There is no fluff in this script. Every word, every gesture, every glance means something important. So yeah, it’s been a challenge but a fun challenge. LA: Come and see Anthony in "Doubt, A Parable” from September 11-27, 2009.