Geoffrey Pounsett has been twice blessed in his career with “man of the cloth” roles.
The Toronto actor/director portrayed a preacher in Theatre Calgary’s production of Fire and in his debut role for PG’s Theatre North West, he plays Father Brendan Flynn.
John Patrick Shanley’s Tony award and Pulitzer-winning play Doubt, A Parable is set in a Catholic parish and school in the Bronx in 1964.
The play centres around Sister Aloysius, a school principal who becomes suspicious over the conduct of a young priest Father Flynn.
“The play leaves room for interpretation so the audience is engaged and encouraged to be involved (in pondering question of doubt). It is not so much about the issue of abuse as it is a framework to look at our ability to be sure and how we come to our conclusions and judgments.”
Doubt, A Parable gives the power to decide to the audience, he said.
“Shanley has said that the second part of the play really takes place in the lobby, after the performance, when audience members have their say. This is a play that is challenging and compelling from two perspectives:
“It’s engaging for the theatre goers and for the actors.”
The playwright shapes characters that are “very sympathetic,” Pounsett notes. Taking on the role of Flynn is a bit of a “power trip” on the pulpit even for the accomplished actor whose film and T.V. credits include The Kennedys, The Whistleblower and Degrassi: The Next Generation. Part of the reason for that is realistic sets which TNW set designer Ted Price says can help actors “become” their characters.
“Two of the nine scenes in Doubt are sermons by Father Flynn and they require a powerful delivery to the audience which is much like having a congregation around you. So that frame standing at the pulpit, towering stained glass windows behind you gives a sense of authority to it all. You carry that authority for the role and it is supported by the set.”
His character is well-liked and capable but there is an air of mystery surrounding him, Pounsett said.
“There’s something going on that makes him vulnerable. There are multiple sides to his personality, which makes him interesting for the actor and hopefully for the audience.”
Acting takes Pounsett all over the country.
“I love that (travel) about my work.”
With a stage debut at 13 in a school play, Pounsett went on to study at George Brown Theatre School and Queen’s University.
“I had great drama teachers. At first, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be teaching or performing.”
He does teach aspiring actors but his own performing and directing projects (credits include The Seagull, A Quiet Place) take most of his time.
Doubt, A Parable runs Feb. 10 to. 27 at Theatre North West in Parkhill Centre. Evening performances 8 p.m. Sunday matinees 2 p.m. Feb. 20 and 27. Tickets are at Books and Company or by phone at 250-614-0039.