Arthur Miller's "The Crucible," which is based on events of the 1692 Salem witch trials, will close Dignity Players' sixth season. Director Mickey Lund is leading the troupe's largest cast ever assembled in the play, which is often ranked among the top 20 American plays.
The production will close DP's 2010 theme of "Crisis of Faith."
At a recent rehearsal, Lund was coping with the logistics of a large ensemble, and working to make Miller's drama "more accessible." He planned to modernize the dialogue and eliminate accents to bring the work alive.
"Arthur Miller in 1953 used 'The Crucible' as an allegory, relating the historical events of the 1692 Salem witch trials to the mid-'50s McCarthy era to focus on how misconstrued comments can create mass hysteria," Lund said. "And parallels continue to exist today to make it a timely parable."
"The Crucible" focuses on farmer John Proctor, his wife, Elizabeth, and a servant girl, Abigail, who schemes to have Elizabeth arrested for witchcraft so she can take her place. When John Proctor brings Abigail to court to admit her lie, the course of bigotry and deceit is depicted. Instead of saving his wife, Proctor is also accused of witchcraft and condemned.
The play demonstrates how the truth can be manipulated to serve hidden agendas. Fueled by fears, jealousy, secrets, lies and greed, the town residents turn on each other.
Miller stressed in his 1953 play that truth can be wrongly interpreted by revered persons in power who pronounce justice, and a false accusation can doom an innocent person. He was eventually called to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee.
At the recent Dignity Players rehearsal, the drama was high during a scene where Judge John Danforth listens to Elizabeth Proctor deny her guilt before her husband arrives. The drama continues to build as Abigail arrives to begin her testimony, and truth slips into speculation as justice becomes elusive.
Cast members include Danny Brooks, Joan Townshend, Frank Moorman, Alexandra Buell, Darice Clewell, Katy Danckaert, Dean Davis, Josie Dubois, Tim King, Brenda Mack, Mary MacLeod, Noel Milan, Niji Ramunas, Jim Reiter, Kira Sharpe, Jeff Sprague, and Bronwyn van Joolen.
This cast seems destined to deliver a powerful, thought-provoking performance.
The show is not to be missed by anyone who enjoys a thoughtful, contemporary interpretation of classic American theater, Colonial history or mid-20th-century political history. It concentrates on the nature of truth, and the historical and contemporary manipulation and perversion of justice portrayed can be interpreted to fit any time period. It should be an especially welcome diversion for students and educators who might know the work only from classroom readings.
If you go
Performances are at 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 7, Friday, Oct. 8, and Saturday, Oct. 9, and Oct. 14-16 and at 3 p.m. Oct. 10 at the Unitarian-Universalist Church, 333 Dubois Road, Annapolis. Tickets for students and educators are $8 for all performances, $20 for adults for Friday and Saturday performances and $15 for Thursday and Sunday performances. There is a $5 discount for all performances for seniors. Tickets: 410-266-8044, ext. 127, or dignityplayers.org.