MCCTA’s The Crucible: A Timely Piece of Theater
Marist College Club of Theatre Arts (MCCTA)’s performance of Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible” is an incredibly chilling show with themes that transcend any specific time period and speak to our current political climate.
Director Jim Steinmeyer discussed how his vision for the show was one that spoke to the American psyche as a whole and that he wanted to focus on the fear and paranoia that the show represents, rather than focusing on any specific period of time. Steinmeyer viewed the show as “a microcosm of a habit that we Americans get into when sudden paranoia strikes the nation and a large population gets paranoid.” He also mentioned that America goes through cycles of fear and distrust, and that “we are in a time now when a lot of citizens are fearful that they’re losing their identity as an American and afraid of losing their place.” He said that these themes are a major part of the show as a whole, and span throughout American history, as well.
One theme that the show deals with well is how people tend to fear things that are different from what they know; people need reassurance that what they’re doing is the right thing. Religion was extremely important to the townspeople; those who strayed from their religious beliefs were persecuted, exemplifying the theme of being afraid of those who are different from us. With rhetoric such as “build a wall” coming from the current administration, this fear of outsiders is something that has permeated into our society and stirred up a sense of fear similar to what Miller’s story shows.
Additionally, this sense of fear is justified and furthered by those who are prominent figures in society. Similar to the characters of the lieutenant governor and Judge Nathaniel Hawthorne, leading figures in our country have been condoning this level of fear by the choices of rhetoric that they use in their speeches and rallies. Even social media platforms such as Twitter have been useful for the current administration to instill a sense of fear and instability, and while this was not an issue that took place in “The Crucible” itself, the fear that people are experiencing in both the show and in real life are being worsened by those in power.
Another theme that parallels real-life issues is how people take things at face value and don’t take the time to question those in power, who are never seen for their true character. Abigail Williams, the character who did most of the accusing during the witch trials, was inherently believed by those in the town because she was a young woman who had no reason to lie, as far as most people were aware. Under the surface, however, she did have a reason to lie, because she was in love with John Proctor and wanted his wife dead. She also wanted to cover up the fact that she partook in a ritual that could be taken as witchcraft.
In real life, a variety of different issues can be twisted depending on who you talk to. Overall, people need to be more educated when they decide to have opinions on certain issues. This, again, goes back to certain rhetoric that the current president has been espousing. The fact that people believe him at face value is alarming in itself, because people need to form opinions in a more educated manner.
From these opinions, the mob mentality that is shown in both “The Crucible” and the current political climate is problematic because it can lead to dangerous situations. The levels of hate crimes in this country are alarming and are due to this type of rhetoric, much like those who were in “The Crucible” because they were accused of witchcraft. This show is so pertinent to what is going on in the country today; we need people to stand up to the hatred and negativity that is being promoted by those in power, much like John Proctor attempted to do when he and his wife were first accused.