The Crucible

Thu 27th – Sat 29th Nov 2014


“St Hilda's Drama Society present their Michaelmas play - The Crucible - the gripping and intense account of the Salem witch trials.”





St Hilda's Drama Society


First performed in 1953 amidst the tense and arguably oppressive atmosphere of post-war America, the Crucible takes an analogous historical setting (Salem, MA, 1692) and makes some striking and still hugely relevant points about society. The consequences of spite and grudging, allowed to simmer and come to the surface as suspicion and sanctimony, are explored in vivid detail; even the very nature of taboo – such as ‘witchcraft’ – is questioned.

In Salem, what I find most interesting is the extent to which order breaks down after a few accusations fly. Whilst Abigail Williams and John Proctor are both rather stylised, iconic characters, the cast is in general composed of ‘ordinary people’, hence the play’s continuing appeal. What we are dealing with here is a horrible vision of what any community is capable of, once we get to a stage where (to quote Proctor) “…crazy children are jangling the keys of the kingdom, and common vengeance writes the law”. Added to the personal tragedy shared with the characters of Romeo & Juliet or Sophocles’ Oedipus the King, The Crucible features mass-action tragedy brought on by widespread credulity and willingness to blame.

In the era of McCarthy and Hoover’s Committee on Un-American Activities, ‘witches’ could be read as ‘suspected communist sympathisers'. Michael Billington (The Guardian) says of the recent Old Vic production “…it has obvious relevance to the war on terror” - but as is the case with much dramatic work, it is ultimately down to individual interpretation (by production, cast and audience) what aspects of today’s human condition are most sharply thrown into relief by The Crucible. Who are the real witches?

Admission: £7(£5)

JDP Auditorium

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