Spring Theatre Production
The Crucible slated for peformances this week
By Nathana Faddis
The theater department is undertaking one of the 20th century’s most beloved plays, “The Crucible,” as their spring drama production for York College. The play is full of alleged witchcraft, written by the great playwright Arthur Miller and is a parable of American society in the 1950s.
“The Crucible” is a drama about witchcraft in 17th Century Puritan New England. The play focuses on a farmer, John Proctor, and his wife, Elizabeth Proctor. His wife is accused of witchcraft, along with many other residents of Salem village.
When he goes to town to defend her and reveal the lie that is becoming all-consuming, he finds the town deceived and becomes convicted of witchcraft himself. It is both an important historical play as well as a parable of contemporary society, mainly in reference to America’s fear of Communist spies and the infiltration of the halls of American political power. It is also the winner of the 1953 Tony Award. The New York Times calls it “a powerful drama.”
Director John Baker III decided to do “The Crucible” because it is one of America’s great plays, and he knew that this year he had the pool of talent that he needed. He has assembled a cast of 20 college students and one middle school student – Bailey Carr, who plays Betty Parris. Rehearsals began in January, and Baker has enjoyed the process, calling it “fun to work with such talented actors, who take what they are doing seriously.”
Rehearsing this play has helped many of the students involved to grow as actors and actresses. Sophomore London Hawley, who is playing Abigail Williams, says, “I have thought a lot more about my role. I have also learned the value of endless practice.”
Actress Sara Firm and actor Mitch Roush have both been greatly challenged in their roles as Elizabeth Proctor and John Proctor. Firm spoke of the experience, saying, “Elizabeth is a very strong woman whose faith and family are very important to her. Elizabeth will do anything to hang on to the people she loves. Playing Elizabeth Proctor has forced me to deal with a lot of personal fears. This character has walked me through a lot of tough issues involving broken relationships, forgiveness, mistrust, and loss. This role has definitely stretched me personally and has made me figure out where I stand on the issues of faith, relationships and family. Playing Elizabeth Proctor has been a challenge, but ultimately it has been a blessing.”
Mitch Roush described the impact of the role of John Proctor as, “A huge honor to get to be a part of something that has influenced multitudes for over half a century. The role of John Proctor is so impacting because he reminds us all of humanity - the good and the bad. Getting to live as Proctor these past six weeks has challenged me to dig within myself to find the goodness in me and the goodness in others. Proctor’s inability to forgive himself is what brings him down. I feel that all humanity needs to be reminded of that.”
The message of “The Crucible” is a message for all generations. Baker explains his hopes for the effect the production will have on the cast and the audience: “I think that the students involved in the production will grow as actors. Those watching the production will learn about two periods in history: the 1680s Salem witch trials and the 1950s witch hunt for Communists in our own country.
“The play was written by Arthur Miller concerning what was going on in the country in the 1950s, but set in a similar situation that took place earlier in colonial America--the Salem witch trials. This is important for the audience to see and understand, because the same thing can and does still happen today.”
The performance will be held in Gurganus Hall, Feb. 26 through March 1. Thursday, Friday and Saturday the performances will be at 7:30 p.m. and at 2 p.m. on Sunday. York College students, faculty and staff admission is free; otherwise it is $6 for adults and $4 for students.
Firm expresses her excitement when she says, “I cannot wait to share this compelling story with the campus and community of York. I believe our audiences’ lives will be touched.”