Faith Healer

In a recent conversation, Guthrie kingpin Joe Dowling was game to talk about his American acting debut in Faith Healer, if a little bemused that anyone would want to make a big deal about it. "It's been 20 years since I rehearsed and played a role," he noted, during which time his primary pursuits have been directing and theater building. "It's been something I wanted to do for a while," he added, citing his long association and affinity with playwright Brian Friel. In addition to faith healer Frank Hardy, Friel's script also portrays his wife and his talent manager. Guthrie vets Sally Wingert and Raye Birk round out the cast, and the story is told in a series of monologues from the characters as they come to grips with their shared associations and a single life-changing event. Dowling also directs, along with associate director Benjamin McGovern. Dowling clearly relishes the chance to be on the other side of the actor-director divide after two decades. "Ben has the unenviable task of directing me," Dowling said. "I told him I'll be appalling. I plan to take out on him what actors have taken out on me for 40 years." Dowling was joking, one assumes, but he acknowledges there's a certain fascination in seeing him take the stage. "I have a history with the play, this series of monologues," he said. "It seemed like a good one to get back into the fray with." And so, in his low-key way, Dowling seems relieved to have addressed the matter and ready to move on. "It's an Irish play of considerable power, and the opportunity is personally satisfying. In a way it brings me full circle." Dowling paused, then added, "As it gets closer, of course, I start to panic." (Photo by T Charles Erickson)
Tuesdays-Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Starts: Oct. 23. Continues through Dec. 6, 2009

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