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Baker Leads Blackbird/LU Production of THE CRUCIBLE


The Crucible, Arthur Miller's incisive drama about the Salem Witchcraft Trials - written during the turbulent times of the Hollywood Red Scare and the oppression of the McCarthy era in American politics - premieres at Lipscomb University's Shamblin Theatre for a February 19-28 run in a joint production of Blackbird Theater and Lipscomb University Department of Theatre.

The Crucible is directed by Lipscomb Theatre chair Beki Baker, who helmed Blackbird's critically acclaimed 2014 staging of George Bernard Shaw's Man and Superman, and Nashville Shakespeare Festival's 2012 production of Julius Caesar.

"While Miller wrote the play specifically to address 1950s McCarthyism and the House Un-American Activities Committee 'witch hunts,' Miller's themes and characters exploit elements of humanity that transcend any single application," says Baker. "Of all the ideas explored in The Crucible, including the perversion of justice, the power of collective hysteria, the ramifications of religious fundamentalism, and the need for scapegoats in society - all ideas boil down to one driving element of mankind: fear."

Baker's cast is led by Nashville actor and arts educator Ross Bolen in the role of John Proctor.

"John Proctor is the story's protagonist," says Blackbird managing director Greg Greene. "He's a farmer, and a flawed but noble man whose emotionally distant wife is accused of witchcraft by a rival for her husband's affection. He must walk the razor's edge of public opinion while fighting for his family, his freedom, and his life in the face of political opportunism and personal ambition."

Baker's 24-member cast also features Shannon Hoppe (Elizabeth Proctor), Lipscomb University sophomore Emily Meinerding (Abigail Williams), and Brian Webb Russell (Deputy Governor Danforth) who portrayed Salieri in Blackbird's 2013 production of Amadeus.

"This is a rare chance to fully experience Miller's riveting script," Greene notes, "which has been a staple of school reading lists for decades, and which has earned its place at the core of the American theatre canon. We encourage parents and teachers to bring their middle and high school students to this compelling and thought-provoking show. In the current political climate, this story of power, fear, and resistance has never been more relevant."

Performances are February 19-20, 25-27 at 7 p.m. and February 21 and 28 at 3 p.m. General admission tickets are $17, students $5. Tickets are on sale now at

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From This Author Jeffrey Ellis