By MELISSA PILEIRO
In today’s culture, rumors can be ugly, character ruining things. In Salem, Massachusetts in the 1600s, rumors were deadly.
Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, performed by Cumberland County students, staff and community members last month, is a dramatic retelling of the witch trials at Salem that killed at least twenty-five people. The play is also highly symbolic, acting as a thinly veiled critique of the communist Red Scare and McCarthyism of the 1950s. America has always been somewhat paranoid of its neighbors, and when one moves beyond the witch hunt that was central to this show, the parallels to the present day are obvious.
The plot centers around a teenage girl named Abigail Williams (played by Tori Moratelli) who is caught up in an affair with an older married man (John Proctor, played by Mark Yecco), and will stop at nothing to have him for her own. All of Abigail’s friends join in on an act of “witchcraft” to help her win John Proctor’s heart, but when they are questioned for it, chaos ensures.
To avoid trouble, Abby passes the blame to older women of the village, and by the time these women are actually tried for sorcery, it is too late to back out. Everyone in the tiny village knows what’s going on, only prompting more gossip and wild rumors.
In reality, none of the people actually executed at Salem were genuine witches, but given the culture of the day, it was a serious threat that needed to be dealt with.
Director Deborah Bradshaw has been the force behind many of CCC’s recent theatre performances, including High School Musical, 42nd Street, and last fall’s Rumors. A broadway veteran, Bradshaw said that The Crucible is timeless, and a show she has always enjoyed. “I just love the show. I think we needed a bit of a change of pace, too,” she explained. Most of the Theatre Department’s recent productions have been comedic and light, and this show’s drama and intense emotional moments were a stark contrast that the cast still pulled off wonderfully.
“It wasn’t necessarily difficult for them,” Bradshaw said about preparing the cast for something more serious, “it was just a process. It took time to reach that final point [to perform].”
Cast members spoken to briefly after the show all expressed their joy in getting to work with one another and with Deborah. Audience members certainly weren’t complaining, either: there were over 300 people at each of the night shows, with a little less during the Sunday matinee, and a sold out student performance. Snacks and cider were sold to benefit the drama club during intermission.
This Spring, CCC will be bringing the musical Beauty and the Beast to the stage. For information about the show, the degree programs in Theatre, or how to get involved with the drama club, email Deborah at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 691-8600, ext. 456.