AOTC: Please introduce yourself!


Shelby: My name is Shelby Noelle Gist. I am the assistant director and I play Mrs. Muller.


AOTC: What is your favorite character moment in Doubt?


Shelby: My favorite moment in Doubt is when Sister Aloysius and I discuss acceptance and rules. It's so telling of both their life experiences.


AOTC: What was the funniest moment in rehearsal?


Shelby: Once during rehearsal, Kim came to answer the door when I had knocked and I held the door knob so she couldn't open it and she thought she had locked the door somehow.


AOTC: What was your "Ah-Ha!" moment? When did you click with your character as an actor?


Shelby: There was a moment on opening night right before I went on stage, I realized Mrs. Muller lies to Sister Aloysius about her husband having work. Mrs. Muller never told her husband of the appointment because she know it would make him more angry and lash out at Donald.



AOTC: What is your character's relationship to truth? How do they find it? What is their source for truth?


Shelby: Mrs. Muller often talks about what she knows. She finds truth in asking the hard questions and working hard at whatever the out come might be. She says, "You accept what you accept and you work with it." As a black woman in America, she knows how to navigate the world and who she can trust.


AOTC: What is your personal relationship to truth? How do you find it? What is your source for truth?


Shelby: I truly believe that life imitates art. We see plays like this about a gay black child possibly being abused. There have been at lease 22 trans black women killed this year alone, but its not spoken about because they are so low on the privileged totem pole. If I could ask one questions to Sister Aloysius it would be why she hasn't talked to Donald since Father Flynn had left. Now that the threat is gone, why hasn't she asked him? As a black person it's really hard to hear stories like this when we never get to see the face of Donald. We talk about him but he never gets any conclusion.


AOTC: What is your favorite quote from Doubt?

"I'll be standing with my son and those who are good to my son. It'd be nice to see you there."

TW: Sexual Abuse; Religion


Parable (n): a simple story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson. The Tortoise and the Hare: “The race is not always to the swift.” The Emperor’s New Clothes: “We must not let pride or fear keep us from speaking up.” The Boy Who Cried Wolf: “Nobody believes a liar … even when he is telling the truth!”


Upon first glance, Doubt: A Parable by John Patrick Shanley, may seem simple and straight-forward enough: a no-nunsense (see what I did there?) Catholic principal, Sister Aloysius, suspects the charismatic priest, Father Flynn, of doing the unthinkable with the school’s first Black student. Using whatever tools necessary to uncover the truth, Sister Aloysius stops at nothing to expose Father Flynn. But Father Flynn is protected. Not only by the tender-hearted Sister James and the long-suffering Mrs. Muller, but by the very system within which all of the characters operate.


The script’s accolades are vast: nominated for eight Tony Awards; winner of the 2005 Tony Award for Best Play; and winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. In 2008, the film adaptation, simply titled, Doubt, starring Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and Viola Davis, was also nominated for five Academy Awards. It is clear this parable has audiences and critics in agreement: We desire truth when faced with doubt.



Doubt’s conception was brought to pass by the 2002 Boston Globe’s expose on the Catholic church’s widespread sexual abuse scandals as well as the United States invasion of Iraq in 2004. Not only was this time period socially and culturally tumultuous, but a time of personal wrestling for John Patrick Shanley. Father Flynn's character is based partly on a teacher from Shanley's own life:

“He took me under his wing. I had a heavy Bronx accent, I wasn’t popular with the students, and I was even less popular with the teachers -- I had some emotional problems -- and this guy really championed me, and saw something in me, and educated me; gave me a great classical education. But he was a predator, and in my case he did nothing about it.”
“I didn’t know it at the time, but there was something in the air, and by degrees I became more and more disturbed, and finally many years later I got corroboration from an eye witness. Shortly after that I got a letter from him that he was dying, and invited me to visit him, and I didn’t go. I wished him well, but I couldn’t honor him in that way. I wrote Doubt shortly after that.” (John Patrick Shanley on “Doubt.” Studio 360, December 13, 2008).

It is tempting to desire the simple. To seek after the moral lesson. To define our lives by what is black and what is white. But what this parable asks from us, dear reader, is not so simple. It asks us to look at our own complacency. Our own blind spots. Our own shortcomings. And, after looking at these stains on our mortal coil, we are asked to act. We are asked to decide.


In the preface to Doubt: A Parable, Shanley writes, "The beginning of change is the moment of Doubt. It is that crucial moment when I renew my humanity or become a lie." How do you, dear reader, define your truth? What is your personal relationship to truth? How do you find it? And, when faced with the unknown, will you look at it? Or will you turn away?


Chelsea Hickman

Literary Manager

An Other Theatre Company



It has been a whirlwind rehearsing and performing The Moors with An Other Theatre Company over the past few months. I am in the unique position of not only acting in the show, but also penning our first blog post for this production as our Literary Manager. What an honor!


I have, over the course of working on this show, given much thought and contemplation to the moors and what they represent within the world of this play. When the naive and romantic governess, Emilie, arrives on the moors, she has a sure knowledge of her role and place in the context of this 1840s...ish world. In her words, “I’ve moved from house to house my whole life. There’s always a lady of the house who can’t abide me, a gentleman of the house who pursues me, a child who dies of something awful--and then I move on. Wherever I go, it is all the same, and I’m always a stranger.”


Before arriving on the moors, time and place are tangible to Emilie. She has been employed in many houses, but what she sees, “does not change so very much.” She sings lullabies to children who hate her. She finds drinking unladylike. These are her concrete and definite given circumstances. Early on in the process, I saw many similarities between Emilie’s character arc and that of Nora’s in A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen. Both women function as marionette puppets. They perform their roles as dictated by society without complaint. Until...they look up and discover they are not their own, autonomous beings. They have been manipulated and exploited time and time again. It isn’t until they cut themselves free of those societal strings that they realize what they truly seek: uncertainty, mercilessness, and power.


The moors are the haunting embodiment of uncertainty, mercilessness, and power. Time and place are intangible. They are simultaneously changing and unchanging. They are concrete yet...malleable. Yet, Emilie moves forward in her uncertainty. What has happened to Master Branwell? Where is the child she is to watch? And why, above all others, was she chosen? Why her? It is a dangerous quest for knowledge Emilie embarks on. As she discovers the answers to these questions, she comes face to face with the mercilessness of others. It is through this mercilessness she discovers the extent of her true power.


AGATHA: I cannot stand weakness. I cannot stand it in myself, and I cannot abide it in others. There is no weakness in the moors. When I come out here, I am surrounded by merciless strength.


EMILIE: But mightn’t it turn on you? Mightn’t you be devoured by it?


AGATHA: Yes, absolutely.


If I could extend an invitation to you, dear reader, I would ask you to ponder the following: What scares you? What are your uncertainties? How can you face the bleak, the unforgiving, and the terrifying with merciless strength? Where does your true power lie? In the hands of others? Or in your own?


Why not take a walk on the moors and find out?


Chelsea Hickman Literary Manager An Other Theatre Company

An Other Theatre Company acknowledges that our theatre stands on the

traditional territory of the Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute) nation.

© 2020 by An Other Theater Company.