|October 14, 1999
Volume 30 Number 5
|A publication for the faculty, staff, administrators, and friends of California State University, Chico|
Theatre Arts presents The Crucible
The Salem witch trials of the late 1600s will be brought to life in CSU, Chico's Department of Theatre Arts' haunting production of Arthur Miller's classic American drama, The Crucible.
Staged October 20-23 at 7:30 p.m. and October 24 at 2 p.m. in Harlen Adams Theatre, The Crucible is "a disturbing look at a period in American history that has a certain amount of cultural relevance today," according to Director Gail Holbrook, faculty member in the Department of Theatre Arts.
The Crucible is set in Salem, Massachusetts in the spring of 1692. Salem is a town of God-fearing Puritans whose lives are based upon suspicion and mistrust. In the play, a young servant girl named Abigail Williams instigates a witch-hunt that ultimately results in the deaths of some members of the community accused of practicing witch- craft. A central figure in the play is the farmer John Proctor, who Abigail has had an adulterous affair with and wants to steal away from Proctor's wife, Elizabeth.
Holbrook, who has a reputation for directing newer plays dealing with women's issues, said The Crucible is a good educational vehicle for the Department of Theatre Arts and its students -- a classic American drama written by a renowned playwright, Miller, that is still very relevant today, and that has strong roles for both men and women.
Actors in the production come from Chico State as well as the community. Dylan Latimer, artistic director of the Chico Creek Theater Festival, plays John Proctor, and Slim Barkowska, who was recently in Shakespeare in the Park's production of Romeo and Juliet, portrays Thomas Putnam, a father of one of the girls thought to be under the spell of a witch. Rebecca Long is cast in the role of Abigail Williams and Michelle Marsh as Elizabeth Proctor.
The Department of Theatre Arts' production of The Crucible will offer the audience a very authentic feeling of 1692 Salem through the design of the set (Mark Beal), as well as the lighting, (Hector Garza), and costumes (Jocelyn Stringer). "The people of the Puritan faith lived in a very oppressive society back then. Thus the staging for the play will try to capture a feeling of someone always looking over her shoulder."
Miller, perhaps best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning play Death of a Salesman, is considered by many theatre historians to be one of America's greatest playwrights -- and perhaps America's greatest living playwright. He wrote The Crucible at a time, the early 1950s, when the U.S. was wracked by the McCarthy hearings. The Crucible is Miller's condemnation of Senator McCarthy's "witch-hunt."
While clearly sounding a warning against the excesses of government, The Crucible is also a story of real people, the choices they make, and the consequences their choices bring, noted Holbrook. "Are you going to leave humming a tune? No. But hopefully you will recognize the modern parallel, and you will think about what this play means." -- Dana Olson, Humanities and Fine Arts
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