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Virginia Tech and Hollins University theatre departments join forces to present award-winning Doubt


BLACKSBURG, Va., Oct. 24, 2008 – Hollins University and the Virginia Tech Department of Theatre Arts joins forces to present the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning, Doubt, a parable by John Patrick Shanley.

This production is part of the 2008 Roanoke Arts Festival, and the 40+40 Fest in conjunction with the much-anticipated opening of the Taubman Art Museum.

Doubt is directed by Hollins University Theatre Department Chair Ernie Zulia and features Patricia Raun, head of Virginia Tech’s Department of Theatre Arts in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, as Sister Aloysius, and Jens Rasmussen as Father Flynn.

Raun and Rasmussen are appearing courtesy of Actors’ Equity Association. Randy Ward, Virginia Tech theatre arts professor and director of the university’s master of fine arts program in scenography and technical theatre studies is the scenic and lighting designer.

Performance dates and locations are as follows.

  • Oct. 30 through Nov. 1 at 8 p.m. and Nov. 2 at 2 p.m. at Hollins Main Stage where the full scenic design, including projections, will be part of the production.
  • Nov. 7 at 8 p.m., Nov. 8 at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Nov. 9 at 2 p.m. at Mill Mountain Theatre’s Waldron Stage as part of the Roanoke Arts Festival. (Tickets for the above performances are available from Hollins Box Office at (540) 362-6517.)
  • Nov. 4 and 5 at 7:30 p.m. at the Virginia Tech Black Box Theatre in the Performing Arts Building on the university’s main campus in Blacksburg, Va. (This performance will have extremely limited seating and will be presented at no charge on a first-come first-served basis.)

Shanley’s 90-minute drama takes place in a 1964 Catholic school, and is the story of a strong-minded nun faced with a difficult decision. As principal, should she voice concerns about the actions of the liberal Father Flynn, even if she’s not entirely certain of the truth? If she does, will it be halted in the offices of a patriarchal society where a woman’s authority is limited, even when the issue in question is the sexual abuse of a child?

A glimpse behind the doors of church politics, Doubt is a clash between certainty and ambiguity. According to The New York Times, Doubt is, “an inspired study in moral uncertainty with compelling structure of an old-fashioned detective novel. It is a gripping story of suspicion cast on a priest’s behavior that is less about scandal than about fascinatingly nuanced questions of moral certainty. Blunt yet subtle, manipulative but full of empathy for all sides, the play is set in 1964 but could not be more timely.”

Based in New York City, Rasmussen has created over 100 roles on stage and in film. He has performed for the United Nations, as well as with off-Broadway theatres including Pan Asian Rep, Synapse Productions, Epiphany Theatre Co., Theatreworks/USA, Assembly Productions, and Vital Theatre.

Rasmussen’s career also includes regional theatre where he’s been a resident guest artist with The State Theatre of Georgia as well as Mill Mountain Theatre in Virginia, Stage One, and the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival. Of his work on camera, he says he is especially proud of the award-winning films A Boy and a Girl, Rendezvous with Rama, which was featured in American Cinematographer, and his documentary hosting experience with the Jack Mountain Earth Skills Immersion Program.

Raun is a noted teacher, performer, and director. She has acted in over 100 productions in theatres across the country, appeared in over 75 television and film productions, and served as a voice and dialect coach for more than 35 productions. Professor Raun recently has devoted much of her time to directing. Her on campus directing credits include A Little Night Music, Dancing at Lughnasa, Godspell, Topgirls, A Number, and an original piece written by Raun and Thomas Gardner called Ear and I and Silence. Most recently she directed Joe Turner's Come and Gone. In 2005, she premiered a new one-woman show by Gardner at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland.

At Virginia Tech since 1986, Raun is Virginia Tech’s theatre arts department head and the director of the School of Performing Arts and Cinema and is the recipient of the Virginia Tech Teaching Excellence Award and the Outstanding Educator Award from the Virginia Governor's School. She received her master of fine arts from The Pennsylvania State University, and a bachelor of fine arts from the University of Nebraska. Her credentials include a professional internship in voice at the American Repertory Theatre under Artistic Director Robert Brustein. In 2001, she traveled to Stratford-upon-Avon where she worked with the voice department of the Royal Shakespeare Company.