Fear, hysteria and raw emotion are the heart of Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible.” Set during the 17th century Salem Witch trials and written during the height of 1950s McCarthyism, this play continues to resonate with audiences.
Thanks to the University of Houston’s School of Theatre & Dance, audiences soon will revisit Miller’s classic. The play will be performed at 8 p.m., Feb. 24 – 25 and March 1 – 3 and 2 p.m., Feb. 26 and March 4. All performances will be in UH’s Lyndall Finley Wortham Theatre (in the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts building – Entrance 16 off Cullen Boulevard). For tickets, contact 713-743-2929 or visit http://www.uh.edu/class/theatre-and-dance/buy-tickets/index.php.
Playwright Miller based the play on material gathered from the original 1693 court records of the Salem witch trials. He put John and Elizabeth Proctor, a farmer and his wife, at the heart of “The Crucible.” Proctor’s attempt to clear his wife’s name leads to his own downfall.
“It’s a very American play,” said visiting artist and director Gus Kaikkonen. “We never seem to get away from the issues and problems presented in the play…the combination of political corruption and the powered elite’s inability to admit error, have terrible consequences for the common man.”
Kaikkonen added that the play’s expressionistic set (designed by UH theater student Mark Krouskop) allows for seamless scene transitions.
“It has a wonderfully atmospheric feeling about it,” he said. “This play goes from very intimate, even claustrophobic moments, to huge vibrant scenes with up to 20 people onstage. Mark’s set makes these switches possible, and keeps the play hurtling forward.”
“The Crucible” debuted in 1953 at the Martin Beck Theater on Broadway and earned the Tony Award for “Best Play.” It was revived on Broadway in 2002 with Liam Neeson and Laura Linney in the lead roles. Two film adaptations of the play have been made. “The Crucible” first hit the silver screen 1957. In 1996, Daniel Day-Lewis, Joan Allen and Winona Ryder starred in the second film version. For the 1996 movie, Miller wrote the screenplay.
“The Crucible” is Kaikkonen’s second UH play. Last year, he directed James McLure’s popular Wild West adaptation of the classic English comedy “Wild Oats.”
Recently in New York, Kaikkonen received strong reviews for a revival of Yasmina Reza’s “Art” with the Phoenix Ensemble, and the Pearl Theater Company’s production of George Benard Shaw’s early comedy, “The Philanderer.” The Shaw play runs through Feb. 19 at Manhattan’s City Center. It received favorable reviews from publications such as the Associated Press, the Village Voice and the New York Post.