by Arthur Miller
Directed by Richard ManciniMonday, December 9
Tuesday, December 10
Westport Community Theatre
Westport Town Hall – 110 Myrtle Avenue
Westport, CT 06880
Auditions for “The Crucible” will be held at Westport Community Theatre; actors will be asked to read from the script. Performance dates are February 7 -23, 2014; Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 PM, Sundays at 2:00 PM and Thursday, February 13 at 8:00 PM; there is a preview performance Wednesday, February 5 at 8:00 PM.
Background for “The Crucible”: Early in the year 1692, in the small Massachusetts village of Salem, a collection of girls fell ill, falling victim to hallucinations and seizures. In extremely religious Puritan New England, frightening or surprising occurrences were often attributed to the devil or his cohorts. The unfathomable sickness spurred fears of witchcraft, and it was not long before the girls, and then many other residents of Salem, began to accuse other villagers of consorting with devils and casting spells. Old grudges and jealousies spilled out into the open, fueling the atmosphere of hysteria. The Massachusetts government and judicial system, heavily influenced by religion, rolled into action. Within a few weeks, dozens of people were in jail on charges of witchcraft. By the time the fever had run its course, in late August 1692, 19 people (and two dogs) had been convicted and hanged for witchcraft.
Drawing on research on the witch trials he had conducted while an undergraduate, Arthur Miller composed “The Crucible” in the early 1950s. Miller wrote the play during the brief ascendancy of Senator Joseph McCarthy, a demagogue whose vitriolic anti-Communism proved the spark needed to propel the United States into a dramatic and fractious anti-Communist fervor during these first tense years of the Cold War with the Soviet Union. Led by McCarthy, special congressional committees conducted highly controversial investigations intended to root out Communist sympathizers in the United States. As with the alleged witches of Salem, suspected Communists were encouraged to confess and to identify other Red sympathizers as means of escaping punishment. The policy resulted in a whirlwind of accusations. As people began to realize that they might be condemned as Communists regardless of their innocence, many “cooperated,” attempting to save themselves through false confessions, creating the image that the United States was overrun with Communists and perpetuating the hysteria. The liberal entertainment industry, in which Miller worked, was one of the chief targets of these “witch hunts,” as their opponents termed them. Some cooperated; others, like Miller, refused to give in to questioning. Those who were revealed, falsely or legitimately, as Communists, and those who refused to incriminate their friends, saw their careers suffer, as they were blacklisted from potential jobs for many years afterward.
Reverend Samuel Parris: The minister of Salem’s church, disliked by many residents because of his greedy, domineering personality. He is more concerned about his reputation than the well-being of his sick daughter Betty.
Tituba: Reverend Parris’s slave. During the first scene of the play, she is turned in by Abigail and responds by claiming that four women in Salem are witches. Her next appearance is the final scene of the play, by which point she and Sarah Good are driven mad.
Abigail Williams: Parris’ 17-year-old niece and the play’s antagonist. Once maid for the Proctor house, she was fired by Elizabeth after her discovery of Abigail’s affair with John. Abigail accuses many of witchcraft, including Elizabeth Proctor. She flees Salem during the trials.
Susanna Walcott: A nervous and hasty girl, a little younger than Abigail and she participated with Abigail, Betty, Mercy and Mary in the ritual in the woods. She works for Dr. Griggs.
Ann Putnam: Wife of Thomas Putnam. She has one daughter, Ruth, but has “laid seven babies un-baptized in the earth.” Ann is accusatory and harsh to many, but also very hurt by the deaths of her babies.
Thomas Putnam: Owns a bit of land close to Giles Corey. Giles accuses him of trying to steal it, and says that Putnam got his daughter to accuse Giles’ wife of witchcraft. One of the play’s true villains due to his resentments toward others and tendency to use it to advance himself.
Betty Parris: The ten-year-old daughter of Reverend Samuel Parris and the first to become ill after being “bewitched”. She accuses Abigail of drinking blood to kill Elizabeth Proctor.
Mercy Lewis: Servant to the Putnams and one of the girls caught in the woods with Abigail and Betty by Reverend Parris. Described as “a fat, sly, merciless girl of eighteen.” She and the other girls browbeat Mary Warren into silence about what she saw in the woods.
Mary Warren: Housemaid for the Proctors after Abigail Williams. She is a lonely girl who considers herself an “official of the court” at the beginning of the trials. John Proctor is shown to sometimes abuse her; she ultimately accusese him of witchcraft.
John Proctor (PRE-CAST – will be played by Mark Frattaroli): A down-to-earth, forthright farmer and the play’s protagonist. He has a sexual relationship with Abigail Williams while she is a servant at his farm. He confesses so that he can live with and care for his family, but finally he decides to die rather than lose his good name and thus refuses to confess.
Giles Corey: A friend of John Proctor who is very concerned about his own land. He believes Putnam is trying to take his land by convincing the girls to accuse Giles’ wife of witchcraft. Subjected to being pressed by stones when he refuses to plea to the charge of witchcraft.
Rebecca Nurse: Wife of Francis Nurse, highly respected in Salem for her helpful nature. Voices her opposition to the idea of witchcraft. Near the end, she is accused of being a witch on the prompting of the Putnams, who are jealous of her good fortune.
Reverend John Hale: A well-respected minister reputed to be an expert on witchcraft, called in to Salem to examine the witchcraft trials. Originally believes that there are witches in Salem, but later realizes the widespread corruption and abuse of the trials.
Elizabeth Proctor (PRE-CAST – will be played by Lucy Babbit): John Proctor’s wife. She is accused of witchcraft, and is only saved from death due to the fact that she is pregnant. By the end of the play she feels that Proctor’s affair is due to her own faults, but chooses not to save John’s life, saying she would not take away his goodness.
Ezekiel Cheever: An astute yet weak character; his most important appearance is in the Proctor household where he denounces Elizabeth Proctor for witchcraft. Once friends with John Proctor, but quickly turns against those accused of witchcraft.
George Herrick / John Willard: The Marshal of Salem and in the play is responsible for bringing the defendants before the court. He is a sympathetic character, advising Deputy Governor Danforth of Proctor’s good character.
Judge John Hathorne: Presiding judge over the Salem Witch Trials. Cold, ignorant, antagonistic, constantly denies any new developments regarding the events in Salem Village. Could be considered the “hangin’ judge” of the era, wishing only to see people suffer.
Deputy Governor Thomas Danforth: A pretentious and selfish judge, extremely loyal to the rules and regulations of his position. Seen by Miller himself as being the true villain of the piece, he seems to secretly know that the witch trials are all a lie yet will not stop them because he is afraid of being viewed as weak.
Please click the “Directions” tab above for directions; if you need additional information, please leave a message at the Box Office – (203) 226-1983 or contact email@example.com. Westport Community Theatre is located at Westport Town Hall, 110 Myrtle Avenue in Westport.