In The Crucible’s gripping storyline, an invisible enemy unleashes a dangerous hysteria. As Artistic Director Mark Booher observes, “From time to time, we human beings have periods of moral panic that overtakes us.” The Crucible is one such timeless telling. Though focused on literal witch hunts, for some the play is much more than that. Below the surface, it becomes an allegory for misguided crusades throughout the ages, including ominous opinions against select groups of people today.
Director Roger DeLaurier states, “Fear permeated society at the time of the McCarthy hearings on un-American activities when Arthur Miller wrote this play, and fear permeates the world of The Crucible.” Paranoia is a powerful agent, like a physical contagion, and it can spread swiftly with a devastating force, tearing the social fabric to tatters.
The community in the play in 1692 is ruled by theocracy, where the church law and state law are one and the same and sin and the status of the individual soul are matters of public concern. “It’s a time that is, frankly, to our point of view, intolerant of anything that deviates from a prescribed way of being,” states DeLaurier.
The play speaks to a tragic period in American history when a group of girls took possession of Salem and were responsible for sending 19 honest men and women to the gallows. The Daily News writes of its opening performance, “..the piece is just what it sets out to be: a tragic drama about the historic Puritan purge of witchcraft. It is, as it ends, the story of an upright man who finds within himself the courage to be hanged rather than to confess a guilt he does not own.”
DeLaurier says the journey of John Proctor is one that should resonate with us all. “In a world that has become hysterical, how do we retain our goodness and make our way through this severe test amid a society in tumult? John Proctor’s very human journey is one we can all recognize.”
The cast of nearly 30 includes among others, resident actors Andrew Philpot as John Proctor, George Walker as Reverend John Hale, Polly Firestone Walker as Elizabeth Proctor, Karin Hendricks as Mrs. Ann Putnam, Erik Stein as Thomas Putnam, Don Stewart as Reverend Samuel Parris, Peter S. Hardres as Giles Corey and Brad Carroll as Francis Nurse.
Miller’s 1996 film adaptation of the play is a two-time Oscar Nominee, including one for Best Screenplay.
The Crucible is presented at the Marian Theatre (800 S. College Dr., Santa Maria) by special arrangement with Dramatists Play Service, Inc. New York.
For tickets and more information, visit https://www.pcpa.org/.
— Jessica Morelli