A seriously good play reading

April 5, 2018

The next play reading hosted by NWTC is THE CRUCIBLE by Arthur Miller on Sunday 8th April – 4pm in Roxy Theatre upstairs Conference Room.

The Crucible is a play about the Individual stand against fear and hysteria. Miller sets The Crucible at the “witch-hunt” trials that actually occurred in the Puritan Community of Salem Massachusetts in the 1690’s in the USA. About 20 people were hanged after trials now seen as a travesty of justice.

In Act 3 Miller shows in dramatic form, the unsound, ill based methods used in the Salem trials. In his notes on The Crucible he states the “witch-hunt” was a perverse manifestation of the panic which set in among all classes when the balance began to turn toward greater individual freedoms.

The term “witch-hunt” is today typically used when innocent people are slandered and become scapegoats for the things that go wrong in society.

Arthur Miller wrote this play in 1953 partly as a protest against the McCarthy witch-hunts which sought to track down communist sympathisers in the 1950’s in the USA. Arthur himself in 1956 was accused of contempt of congress when he refused to incriminate people before the House Un-American Activities Committee run by Senator Eugene McCarthy.

Miller had his passport withdrawn because he would not give in or implicate his colleagues from the Hollywood Motion Picture Industry. Many thousands of citizens were interrogated and actors blacklisted.  Miller detected a similarity between McCarthy’s methods and those employed by the Salem Judges in the 17th Century.

During this same year Miller married Marilyn Monroe – maybe she was impressed by the stand he was taking during this time of fear in Hollywood. Their Marriage lasted 5 years and irrevocable differences was cited as the reason for their divorce.

The Crucible premiered at the Martin Beck Theatre New York in 1953. The audience expressed feelings of discomfort not so much to their lack of acceptance of period (Puritan) costume but to an awkwardness at having an embarrassing time in America’s past brought to the surface while simultaneously noticing the applicability of the play’s concerns to the then climate of fear of the Communist Menace with the McCarthy Trials happening at the same time.

The Crucible has been performed in England (directed by Sir Laurence Olivier), in Latin America, Russia and China. Whilst a film version adapted by Jean Paul Sartre was produced in France. There have been many productions of this play in Australia one of which was directed by Richard Wherret. Senior High School Students across the country have studied The Crucible as part of their HSC English Syllabus.

So, are Bingara audiences ready for such a thought provoking play? Has this play any relevance to the world we live in today with Donald Trump the most powerful man in the Western World?

Come along to the play reading to either just listen or take part and see what you think. For those attending there will be a 10 minute break Between Act 2 and Act 3.