THE CRUCIBLE Begins Previews On Stage at Stratford's Avon Theatre
Previews begin today for The Crucible, Arthur Miller's haunting dramatization of the Salem witch trials. Directed by Festival veteran Jonathan Goad, the production opens on Friday, August 16, at the Avon Theatre, marking the 12th and final production in the Festival's 67th season, which runs until November 10.
Written in 1953, this American classic tells a fictionalized story of the notorious witch trials that took place in Salem, Massachusetts, in the 17th century. Miller wrote the play as an allegory of the 1950s anti-Communist hysteria of the McCarthy era, when the House Un-American Activities Committee levelled accusations of subversion or treason on the flimsiest of evidence.
The play centres on farmer John Proctor who has been conducting an illicit relationship with his 17-year-old employee Abigail Williams. She and other teenage girls have been caught dancing wildly in the forest with Tituba, an African-Caribbean slave. Seemingly possessed with hallucinations and seizures, the girls claim that some members of the community have used witchcraft on them. As rumours spread, the town is gripped in a frenzy of hysteria and wrongful accusations - including Abigail's vengeful claim that John's wife practises witchcraft. The epidemic of fear and suspicion engulfs the guilty and innocent alike.
"This is a play we need to look at through the lens of today," says Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino. "At its core is a man in a position of power who has transgressed the sexual moral code in having an extramarital affair with someone in his employ, and it is his resistance to confess which begins and complicates the dramatic action."
Goad, in his 15th season, is making his Stratford directorial debut. Doing double duty this season, he also plays the title role in Henry VIII, which is on stage at the Studio Theatre until October 27.
"Working on this play with a group of sensitive, Committed Artists has been a privilege both terrific and terrifying," says Goad. "Just as Arthur Miller spied a 'poetry in the hunt' when he set out to write The Crucible, the actors find poetry (pleasure, excitement, meaning) in the ritual of rediscovering the harrowing events of the play each time they play it. The pleasure is in playing - even with a work that examines many grim and brutal recesses of the human journey and condition. I am grateful to this company for undertaking this ritual of work/play with such heart and guts."
Tim Campbell leads the cast as John Proctor, with Wayne Best as Deputy Governor Danforth, Katelyn McCulloch as Abigail Williams, Shannon Taylor as Elizabeth Proctor, Scott Wentworth as Reverend Parris, Rylan Wilkie as Reverend Hale and Mamie Zwettler as Mary Warren.
Artistic credits include Designer Michael Gianfrancesco, Lighting Designer Bonnie Beecher, Composer and Sound Designer Debashis Sinha, Movement Director Adrienne Gould and Fight Director Anita Nittoly.
At The Meighen Forum, a panel of special guests will take a closer look at the mass trials for witchcraft in Witch Hunts: From Salem to Now (September 4), focusing on how the term "witch hunt" has become shorthand for organized persecution, real or imagined, and what the phenomenon may tell us about mob rule and misogyny. Writer and journalist Robert Cushman will moderate a panel featuring director Jonathan Goad, Joanna E. Rapf, Emerita Professor of English and Film & Video Studies, University of Oklahoma, and Visiting Professor, Dartmouth College, and Nancy Rhoden, Associate Professor, Department of History, Western University.
For tickets and a full list of the Forum events offered almost every day throughout the season, please visit: stratfordfestival.ca/WhatsOn/TheForum.
August 1 - October 25; opens Friday, August 16 at the Avon Theatre, 99 Downie Street, Stratford, Ontario. Tickets are $23.50 to $201 and can be purchased at stratfordfestival.ca or through the box office: 1-800-567-1600.
The Stratford Festival's 2019 season runs until November 10, featuring Othello, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Henry VIII,Billy Elliot the Musical, Little Shop of Horrors, Private Lives, The Neverending Story, Mother's Daughter, Nathan the Wise, The Front Page, The Crucible and Birds of a Kind.
Photo Credit: David Cooper