Thursday 22nd April to Saturday 24th April and Tuesday 27th April to Saturday 1st May 2010
Directed by Sian Green
In 1692 puritan America the small town of Salem is whipped into a frenzy of hysteria. After being found dancing in the woods with other young girls of the town, Abigail Williams begins a path of moral destruction; accusing her fellow townspeople of witchcraft and dark magic. She will stop at nothing to take revenge, dragging up secrets from her past along the way.
When The Crucible opened in 1953 at the Martin Beck Theatre, it came under attack for not living up to the standard of Miller's previous play; Death of a Salesman. Miller put this down to the production itself, which he felt had been presented coldly and in an overly stylised manner. Nevertheless, later that year Miller was awarded the 'Best Play' Tony award and ever since The Crucible has continued to cement its position as one of the great theatre classics. Arguably Miller's best work, The Crucible is certainly his most widely performed and is now part of curricula worldwide because of its historical, political, theatrical and moral influence.
The Crucible is Miller's classic dramatisation of the witch-hunt and trials that besieged the Puritan community of Salem in 1692. Seen as a chilling parallel to the McCarthyism and repressive culture of fear that gripped America in the 1950s. The plot revolves around a young girl Abigail Williams and the lengths she will go to get what she wants - namely one John Proctor. Initially Abigail and other young girls are seen dancing in the woods at night. When confronted, Abigail falsely accuses many of the local townsfolk - including the wife of her erstwhile lover - of witchcraft. The story of how the small community of Salem is stirred into madness by superstition, paranoia and malice, culminating in a violent climax, is a savage attack on the evils of mindless persecution and the terrifying power of false accusations.
This play was staged at The Spring Arts and Heritage Centre (formerly Havant Arts Centre), East Street Havant - Bench Theatre's home since 1977. Listen to the show trailer as broadcast on Angel Radio or check out the preview in the Chichester Observer.
In The News 'Guide' Awards 2010, Damon Wakelin was nominated for 'Best Amateur Actor' for his portrayal of John Proctor and Alice Corrigan was Runner-up for 'Best Amateur Actress' for her portrayal of Elizabeth Proctor.
|Abigail Williams||Charley Callaway|
|Betty Parris||Nadia Diaper|
|Elizabeth Proctor||Alice Corrigan|
|Ezekiel Cheever||Jeff Bone|
|Franics Nurse||Kevin Jacks|
|George Herrick||Jack Cronin|
|Giles Corey||Jaspar Utley|
|John Proctor||Damon Wakelin|
|Judge Danforth||Roger Wallsgrove|
|Judge Hathorne||Alan Welton|
|Mary Warren||Fern Bicheno|
|Mercy Lewis||Beth Evans|
|Mr Putnam||Terry Smyth|
|Mrs Putnam||Diana Wallsgrove|
|Rebecca Nurse||Ingrid Corrigan|
|Reverend Parris||Mark Wakeman|
|Reverend Hale||Dan Finch|
|Sarah Good||Zoë Chapman|
|Susanna Walcott||Claire Lyne|
|Stage Manager||Sally Hartley|
|Assistant Stage Manager||Sharron Morris |
|Lighting Design||Jacquie Penrose|
|Lighting Operation||Megan Green|
|Sound Design||Sarah Parnell|
|Sound Operation||Callum West|
|Costume Design||Diana Wallsgrove|
|Costume Team||Sue Dawes|
|Set Design||Pete Woodward|
|Set Construction||Simon Growcott|
|Programme Editor||Dan Finch|
I've been racking my brains in an attempt to put my love for The Crucible into words. I studied the play for my GCSE in drama and learnt so much from it. Not only did it teach me about the world of theatre but also about humankind. It taught me about the nature of acting; that an audience should be more than just a spectator to self-indulgence. The play tells a harrowing story in which the small town of Salem is slowly taken over by mass hysteria. The morals are not particularly heart-warming ones - we are shown how a majority will nearly always overpower an individual, regardless of moral prevalence. But it is true to life and all the more enticing for this fact.
For the last couple of months this play has been my life. I have lives and breathed Puritans, revenge, love, lust, envy, God and the Devil (that just doesn't sound healthy does it! But a racy combo nevertheless). I can say with every ounce of sincerity that directing this play has been one of the most enjoyable experiences of my 19 years. I owe this to the wonderful cast that I have been blessed with, the fabulous crew that I was lucky enough to come by and of course Arthur Miller and his awe-inspiring way with a pen and paper. This play is deep, engaging, riveting and tragic. I hope you'd agree.
I think the Crucible stands head-and-shoulders over every other play Arthur Miller wrote. For that matter it stands head-and-shoulders above most other plays written in the 20th Century and The Bench's revisiting proves that in many ways. Not the strongest production I've seen - performances range from the truly impressive to the truly poor and there are some curious directorial choices - but the play really is the thing. Based on actual events in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1962, it deals with a community in the grip of hysteria as neighbour accuses neighbour of witchcraft.
Top of the acting tree is strikingly pre-Raphaelite Alice Corrigan as the falsely accused Elizabeth Proctor. Her nice underplaying in the face of a script that can often appear to demand a shout-fest is inspirational. As her husband John, Damon Wakelin's final scenes in which Proctor battles with his conscience are mighty too. Also up there are Jasper Utley's beautiful Giles Corey, Charley Callaway's Abigail and Daniella Dzikunoo's Tituba.
There are some sight-line problems - the result of some awkward blocking - and the lighting is often over bright - particularly in the pre-dawn sequence played in full light. I also disliked the final - and I thought pointless - offstage song following Elizabeth's tragic yet joyous last line. Intrusive and unnecessary. But go and wallow in Miller's sublime dialogue. Well worth the money.
The News, 23rd April 2010
Bench Theatre are committed to producing a wide range of quality drama both modern and classical and in this case offered the opportunity to a young fledgling director. At just 19 years old Sian Green has undertaken the daunting challenge of directing 'The Crucible'. Arthur Miller's classic historical drama based on the Salem Massachusetts witch hunt in the 1600s and arguably one of the greatest masterpieces of the twentieth century. A tale of vengeance, jealousy and mass hysteria revolving around a group of seemingly ordinary folk.
Opening on a group of young local girls dancing in the forest at night, they are secretly observed by Reverend Parris. He has grave concerns that the girls, being led by the coloured slave Tituba, have been trading with evil sprits. When challenged his niece Abigail denies witchcraft, but when her attempts to rekindle her adulterous affair with farmer John Proctor are thwarted, the situation escalates into mass hysteria, with many local women arrested and even hanged. Proctor feels forced to admit his adultery and declares Abigail's lies as "a whore's vengeance". Following incarceration, when offered a reprieve for his life in return for a confession, he goes bravely to his death.
In this well costumed production, scenery is kept to a minimum to facilitate the large numbers on stage. From this cast of 20 there were some fine powerful performances, notably the highly accomplished Damon Wakelin (John Proctor) gaining strength throughout and culminating in an emotional and commanding climax. Fern Bicheno (Mary Warren) again improved as her character developed bringing a convincing sincerity to her role. Charley Callaway (Abigail Williams) is proving to become an extremely versatile and talented actress. She excelled as the witch trials scheming catalyst. Alice Corrigan (Elizabeth Proctor) played Proctor's cheated wife and Jaspar Utley (Giles Corey) gave a polished performance as this popular character.
This was an ambitious production with some impressive characterisation and enjoyed by a large enthusiastic audience.
remotegoat, 29th April 2010