Guest post by Sister Constance Brennan, Archivist, Sisters of Charity of New York
By now it is a well known fact that the movie Doubt, which was based on the Tony Award drama, was dedicated to Sister Margaret McEntee who taught the author, John Patrick Shanley, in the First Grade at St. Anthony’s School in the Bronx. Sister Margaret, or Peggy, as she is called, exhibited to young Shanley the love and concern that has earmarked Sister of Charity educators since the days of their foundress, Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton.
Less publicized is the number of theater groups that have staged their own productions of this drama. The Archives of the Sisters of Charity of New York has been deluged with appeals for help with costuming, staging, and background knowledge which would help the actors and actresses to live their parts. Doubt has been produced in many states throughout the country, including Alaska, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Missouri, Connecticut, Maryland, New York, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Oregon, West Virginia, and New Hampshire. Productions also occurred in Dublin, Ireland, and Vienna, Austria. The Archives even hosted a Theater Director from Canada who flew in especially for an appointment and in turn passed on the information she received to a neighboring company, and a costume director in far-away Croatia showed great interest in the Sisters of Charity Community Rosary.
The experiences of communicating with many people, who were dedicated to the authenticity of their productions, gave the archivists many opportunities to share their knowledge about the ministries and charism of their Congregation. Through this popular drama, many people have come to appreciate the contributions of the Sisters of Charity to life in New York in the 1960’s.