The Crucible

by Arthur Miller

The Crucible had 4 performances over 8 years ago (between the 25th of November 2009 and the 28th of November 2009)

The Salem Witches

Early in 1692, in the small Massachusetts village of Salem, a number of girls fall ill, victims of hallucinations and seizures. In extremely religious Puritan New England, such frightening occurrences are attributed to the Devil and the sickness spurs fears of witchcraft. Before long the girls accuse other villagers of consorting with the Devil and casting spells. Old grudges and jealousies add to the atmosphere of hysteria and the Massachusetts judicial system, heavily influenced by religion, rolls into action. Within weeks dozens of people are in jail, and by the time the fever has run its course, nineteen people (and two dogs) have been hanged for witchcraft.

The Crucible

This powerful play, a study of intolerance, fear, and the abuse of unjust power, retells the story of Salem through the eyes of those at the centre of the maelstrom. It focuses on John Proctor, the essentially good but flawed farmer tormented in his struggle to work out right from wrong and act accordingly, but whose destiny propels the tale to its tragic conclusion. The play is studied widely as a modern American classic, compared by some to Shakespeare in its scale, but is far more accessible.

Arthur Miller and the context for The Crucible

Born in 1915, Arthur Miller produced his first great success, All My Sons, in 1947. Two years later he wrote Death of a Salesman, descriBed as the first great American tragedy, and gained eminence as a man who understood the deep essence of the United States.

Miller composed The Crucible in the early 1950s during the time of Senator Joseph McCarthy, whose vitriol proved the spark needed to propel the United States into a dramatic anti-Communist fervor during the first tense years of the Cold War. McCarthy led special congressional committees intended to root out Communists. Suspected Communists were encouraged to confess and name other sympathizers as means of escaping punishment. The policy resulted in a whirlwind of accusations and 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”. Some who refused to incriminate their friends saw their careers suffer, and were blacklisted from jobs for years afterward. Miller took liberties with the facts of his own era, and also played fast and loose with the historical record. The general outline of events in The Crucible corresponds to what happened in Salem of 1692, but Miller's characters are often composites. His central plot device—the affair between Abigail Williams and John Proctor—has no grounding in fact (Proctor was over sixty at the time of the trials, while Abigail was only eleven).

A flyer for this production giving full booking details can be downloaded from the link http://rdg.org/flyers/crucible.pdf

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Reverend Parris (35-50) - Keith Bollands

The minister of Salem's church. Reverend Parris is a paranoid, power-hungry, yet oddly self-pitying figure. Many of the townsfolk, especially John Proctor, dislike him, and Parris is very concerned with building his position in the community.

Original

John Proctor (35-50) - Iain Donaldson

A local farmer who lives just outside town; Elizabeth Proctor's husband. A stern, harsh-tongued man, John hates hypocrisy. Nevertheless, he has a hidden sin—his affair with Abigail Williams—that proves his downfall. When the hysteria begins, he hesitates to expose Abigail as a fraud because he worries that his secret will be revealed and his good name ruined

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Elizabeth Proctor (30-45) - Caroline Ross

John Proctor's wife. Elizabeth fired Abigail when she discovered that her husband was having an affair with Abigail. Elizabeth is supremely virtuous, but often cold.

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Francis Nurse (60+) - Colin Bailey

A wealthy, influential man in Salem. Nurse is well respected by most people in Salem, but is an enemy of Thomas Putnam and his wife

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Rebecca Nurse (60+) - Gillian Smithies

Francis Nurse's wife. Rebecca is a wise, sensible, and upright woman, held in tremendous regard by most of the Salem community. However, she falls victim to the hysteria when the Putnams accuse her of witchcraft and she refuses to confess

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Thomas Putnam (40-55) - Ian Thomas

A wealthy, influential citizen of Salem, Putnam holds a grudge against Francis Nurse for preventing Putnam's brother-in-law from being elected to the office of minister. He uses the witch trials to increase his own wealth by accusing people of witchcraft and then buying up their land.

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Ann Putnam (40-50) - Jane Walters

Thomas Putnam's wife. Ann Putnam has given birth to eight children, but only Ruth Putnam survived. The other seven died before they were a day old, and Ann is convinced that they were murdered by supernatural means

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Giles Corey (65+) - Roy Selfe

An elderly but feisty farmer in Salem, famous for his tendency to file lawsuits. Giles's wife, Martha, is accused of witchcraft, and he himself is eventually held in contempt of court and pressed to death with large stones. Some comedic lines.

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Ezekiel Cheever (40+) - Jon Hewines

A man from Salem who acts as clerk of the court during the witch trials. He is an upright ‘jobsworth’, determined to do his duty for justice.

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Judge Hathorne (45+) - Bill Newman

A sadistic judge who presides, along with Danforth, over the witch trials.

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Herrick (30+) - Paul Foster

The marshal of Salem

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Abigail Williams (17) - Paula Foster

Reverend Parris's niece. Abigail was once the servant for the Proctor household, but Elizabeth Proctor fired her after she discovered that Abigail was having an affair with her husband, John Proctor. Abigail is smart, wily, a good liar, and vindictive when crossed.

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Betty Parris (10-14) - Eleanor Collier

Reverend Parris's young daughter. Betty falls into a strange stupor after Parris catches her and the other girls dancing in the forest with Tituba. Her illness and that of Ruth Putnam fuel the first rumors of witchcraft.

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Mary Warren (17) - Emma Thompson

The servant in John Proctor's household and a member of Abigail's group of girls. She is a timid girl, easily influenced by those around her, but central to the plot.

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Mercy Lewis (15-17) - Naomi Walters

The servant in Thomas Putnam's household. Mercy belongs to Abigail's group of girls.

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Susanna Allcott (15-17) - Ellie Usher

Another of Abigail’s group of girls.

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Tituba (25-50) - Enid Gayle

Reverend Parris's slave from Barbados. Tituba agrees to perform voodoo at Abigail's request

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Reverend John Hale (25-50) - Graham Collier

A minister reputed to be an expert on witchcraft. Reverend Hale is called in to Salem to examine Parris's daughter Betty. Hale is a committed Christian and hater of witchcraft. His critical mind and intelligence save him from falling into blind fervor. His arrival sets the hysteria in motion, although he later regrets his actions and attempts to save the lives of those accused.

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Deputy Governor Danforth (50+) - Wally Walters

The Deputy Governor of Massachusetts and the presiding judge at the witch trials. Clever, scrupulous and honest, at least in his own mind, Danforth is utterly convinced that he is doing right in rooting out witchcraft. Arguably the most evil character in the piece.

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Hopkins - Colin Lacey

A Guard

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Ruth Putnam - Hayley Mansell

Daughter of Thomas and Ann Putnam. Non speaking part

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Sarah Good - Jane Walters

An eccentric citizen of Salem

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Director - Mark Humble

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Stage Manager - Liz Thomas

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Set Design and Construction - John Godliman

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Lighting - Peter Harman

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Sound operation - Jakub Bednar

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Continuity - Nancy Lund

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Set Decor - Linda Russell

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Set Design and Construction - Adam Roberts

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Deputy Stage Manager - Clare Pinnock

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Sound design - Mark Humble

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Wardrobe - Judith Dolley

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Wardrobe - Jill Payne

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Front of House Manager - Jill Payne

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Box Office Manager - Emma Thompson

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Photography - Alan Bostock (www.photoeyes.biz)

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Poster and Programme Design - Anne Nunn

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Set Construction (Assisted) - Emma Dudley

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Set Construction (Assisted) - Colin Lacey

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Set Construction (Assisted) - Nick Lund

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Set Construction (Assisted) - Clare Pinnock

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Set Construction (Assisted) - Ian Thomas

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Set Construction (Assisted) - Liz Thomas

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Set Construction (Assisted) - Nancy Lund

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Back Stage Crew - Michelle Blake

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Back Stage Crew - Simon Waller