The Crucible Like You've Never Seen it Before
Arthur Miller’s, The Crucible, has been staged, and staged, and staged again for roughly 60 years. It is regarded as a staple of the American theatre canon and has been shocking audiences with each production. The Crucible, set in Salem, Massachusetts in the mid 1600s, follows the story of how a rumor of witchcraft spirals into mass hysteria.
We follow Abigail Williams (Anna McClear, ‘19), a young woman who has been accused of witchcraft, as she navigates these intense accusations. The story is a timeless social commentary on the female voice, the power behind scapegoating, and the dangers of falling victim to mob-mentality.
With such a lengthy and memorable history, how do productions manage to tell the iconic story in a fresh, innovative way, without losing sight of the integrity of the original piece? The Marist Theatre Program in collaboration with the Marist College Club of Theatre Arts (MCCTA), develops their own take on the eerie Tony Award-winning play with the help of technical elements that are new to the Nelly Goletti stage.
James Steinmeyer, Director and Marist Theatre professor, says, “I want people to involve their senses. It’s different.” These senses Steinmeyer is referring to are heightened with the help of visual projections; something that our technical crew is navigating for the first time in the Nelly Goletti.
“It’s new for us”, says Eileen Curley, Scenic/Projections Designer and Marist professor. These projections aid the indisputably dramatic tone of the piece by having the freedom to create different shapes, silhouettes, and the illusion of fire. These lighting tricks help the cast and audiences to be thrust into a world of chaos, skepticism and uncertainty, which is well in line with the heart of the piece.
Curley says she and Steinmeyer found that the one theme that kept making its way into the design plan was fear. The challenge they faced was how to implement this feeling without over stimulating the audience. “Projections,” Curley says, “is an interesting way to do that.” In the same way a set piece or a costume can inform the audience of the tone of the piece, projections can offer the same amount of influence.
To Steinmeyer, these technical elements completely transform the environment. He says, “We want this environment to include the audience; we want them to feel like they are a part of it.”
Mark Weglinksi, or “Wedge”, Emmy Award-winning Audio Mixer, lends his expertise to this production. “The inspiration for [the sound design of] The Crucible, comes from finding base notes, simple progressions, that can tap into audience’s emotions and help us ride the wave along with the actors,” Wedge says. “We can feel this tension and fear that builds amongst all of them.”
Steinmeyer hopes that the audience walks away with a new perspective. He wants this production to spark a motivation within people to “stand up for principle”. This show, in this moment, feels uncomfortably and frighteningly poignant and this cast is ready to, as Wedge puts it, “Wrap you up, and drag you in.”
Arthur Miller’s The Crucible runs October 4, 5, & 6 at 8pm and October 7 at 2pm. Email BoxOfficeMCCTA@gmail.com for ticket reservations.