Playwright Shanley Caught Out By Former Teacher

Playwright JOHN PATRICK SHANLEY was a bag of nerves when he watched his play DOUBT with the nun who had inspired one of his characters.
The writer felt sure Sister James was dead and decided to use her name and character in the play - but she was alive and well, and desperately wanted to see her favourite student's work.
Shanley explains, "I named the character Sister James in full confidence that the woman was dead because she'd been my teacher when I was six years old. But it turns out she was only 21 years old at that time and it was her first class.
"I got an e-mail saying, 'Sister James heard you wrote a play that she's in and she's very excited and she's coming tonight.' I rushed to the theatre and introduced myself but I was terrified. I sat with her and watched the play.
"The designer (for the play) had gone to the Bronx and rebuilt these environments with total accuracy for the stage, so when the lights went down she and I, 48 years later, sat and watched the past. She hadn't been in that habit since 1966 and to see that world come back was a very peculiar and stirring experience."
Shanley has now adapted his play for the big screen. Amy Adams plays Sister James in the movie.


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