The University of Southern Maine’s Department of Theatre is presenting John Patrick Shanley’s drama, “Doubt,” through Feb. 16 at the Studio Theater at Portland Stage, 25 A Forest Ave. in Portland.

Directed by William Steele, a professor of theatre at USM, the play tells the story of a progressive Father Flynn and a troubled young boy at St. Nicolas Elementary School in the Bronx in 1964.

“ ‘Doubt’ is a wonderful piece for student actors,” Steele said in a press release. “It is challenging and thought-provoking, offering roles that will help them grow artistically and intellectually. It’s also a proven audience favorite that is sure to stimulate vigorous debate well after the final curtain has come down.”

It’s one year after the Kennedy assassination, and there’s a brimming clash between staunch conservatism and progressive liberalism. The script focuses on conversations between Sister Aloysius, the austere, doctrine-wielding school principal, and two more broad-minded teachers, Sister James and Father Flynn, who also is the parish priest. The sister suspects that Father Flynn has molested the school’s first and only African-American student. She bases this belief on conviction rather than proof. She confronts Father Flynn, then meets with the boy’s mother, Mrs. Muller, who ignores the her accusations. Father Flynn goes on to deliver a sermon focusing on the dangers of gossip. As the story unfolds, faith and religion are pitted against uncertainty and doubt.

Shannon Zura, USM assistant professor of theatre, is managing both set and lighting design for the production.

The cast list includes Ashley Rood, who plays the role of Sister Aloysius; David Bliss, who plays Father Flynn; Hannah Perry, who plays Sister James; and Pamela Smith, who plays Mrs. Muller.

The theater department produces one show at the Portland Stage Studio Theater each season. The remaining productions are staged in Russell Hall on the USM Gorham campus.

For show times, go tousm.maine.edu/theatre.

Tickets cost $15 for the general public; $11 for seniors and USM employees and alumni; and $8 for students. For show times and more information, call 780-5151 or go tousm.maine.edu/theatre.