Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams and Viola Davis are the four linchpins of the film version of "Doubt" by the gifted author John Patrick Shanley (his script for the movie "Moonstruck" is one of my favorites).
I have seen the stage version in productions both by Vermont Stage Company and by the Weston Playhouse, but neither production made the final scene an event that flowed from and capped off the rest of the play-in fact, they did not supply a catharsis when one was drastically needed. Not so as played by Streep and Adams; the catharsis hits the audience with all the force and velocity of a speeding train. I felt that I had been blindsided by the author and the actors. What a catharsis!
The portrayals of the characters by these four players are peerless, but there is a fifth actor, the camera, that acts like a Greek chorus, commenting albeit silently on the action; the visual circumstances created in silence by camera angles especially when Streep is walking in the school hallway (the camera sees her from a skewed point of view by glimpses of the priest in his rounds of the church and the school either at a distance where overhearing what is said is not possible) or where a meeting is being held behind a glass-paned door where only sight is possible. The silent commentaries together with juxtapositions of music and speech that comment on the circumstances of the play/film make a strong presence in the film.
The other thing that well lined by Shanley is the subservience of women in religion to the men in religion, which was extremely patriarchal and condescending; mark the difference between meals being consumed by the nuns versus the dinner being enjoyed by the three priests: the nuns' food perpetually the same and almost devoid of meat; the priests' food being a very Rabelaisian or Renaissance feast, replete with wine and laughter and joke telling as well as rich foods with plenty of meat. All of this being shown to us without lots of arrows and whistles and bells to direct our attention, but attention must be paid
If you haven't seen this terrific movie, you owe it to yourself to go to see it.
Vermont Youth Orchestra Association
If you read the brief letter from Troy Peters, you might react in a way that would show your appreciation for Peters by plunging into despair at the obvious: there will be change temporarily, but not loss permanently.
You would be wrong to despair, because if Peters didn't do anything else for music in Vermont, he has created a whole new entity from an existing organization by breathing life into it and that is a fitting monument to 14 years of hard work on the part of Peters, Caroline Whidden and the board.
Peters not only contributed to the VYOA, he contributed to the whole music community, most recently taking up the task of building an orchestra at Middlebury College.
Peters convinced me of his musical and educational gifts towards the beginning of his tenure, when he led the orchestra in a concert that included the Berlioz 'Symphonie Fantastique' and a Prokofiev concerto. I watched the way he marked rhythmic drive and was a model of conductorial exactitude, while at the same time he demanded from the players that they be independent, making them co-creators with him of some very difficult music. He made very few concessions when co-creating music. In the Berlioz, the only concession that I remember was a slight relaxation of the metronome markings.
As with the half-light that occurs that precedes the dawn, the orchestra is going to experience their own half-light, and then wake up to a new day, and as the colors begin to hint at the future, I would remind all those young people who have prospered under the aegis of Troy Peters that they are his co-creators and that should give them solace and a willingness to face the new day that will dawn with the selection of another co-creator who will open up new territories for our young musicians here in Vermont.
To Troy I offer my profound thanks for all he has done for music in Vermont. I offer part of Catullus' ode to his brother: Atque in perpetuum, frater, ave atque vale -Forever, brother, hail and farewell.
Burlington resident Dan Wolfe observes and critiques the local arts scene for The Eagle. His column appears weekly.