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The Crucible by Arthur Miller 25/26/27 October 2012

posted 28 Oct 2012, 09:45 by Unknown user

Play Synopsis

The Crucible is a dramatic, powerful and thought provoking play, it was first presented in 1953 and is widely believed to have been a comment on the McCarthy era in the United States.

The play is based on fact with some details changed. It is set in Salem Massachusetts in 1692, the Puritans had settled there 40 years before having left England to practise their strict religion without persecution. On their arrival they found the land forbidding; the Native Indians in the surrounding wilderness did not submit to conversion and it was feared. They set up what was no less than an armed camp, ruled by their puritanism and leaders who were given state and religious powers. The people had become suspicious of one another; they had been encouraged to report to the authorities anyone who was not living life by the strict law. So what had at first kept them safe from the outside began to eat at them from within.

Some girls are discovered dancing in the woods. Accusations of invoking the devil are made and hysteria sets in. As the trials begin, advantage is taken to settle old scores, it is also seen by some as a way of confessing to sins, blaming the devil’s hand in their misdemeanours. As you will see numerous unsubstantiated accusations are made and many punished.

About the director
How did it all start, with an invitation of course me being the sort of person who needs lots of encouragement to do anything! Then to find a play; the first time I directed in 1995 Richard Hill helped by letting me rummage through his extensive archive of plays, also I visited Goldsmith’s library in Leicester. So much easier now trawling French’s catalogue on the web. Then of course to find a kind and patient person to produce, Averil O’Boyle fitted the bill perfectly. Busybody was chosen, it is a comic thriller, well it had a body and there were two policemen so I guess it was well named. It was pretty thrilling on stage I know, as there were at least three actors up there who were well known for finding it difficult to learn lines! Still it meant that each night was a different experience especially for me watching and worrying. However it went down well with Lutterworth and we had fun producing it. I don’t remember much about the set but all the back stage crew went about their business as usual and came up with the goods.

Five years later and it was WDG’s 50th anniversary, sadly Stella Abbott who was due to direct, died that year and I was given the honour of stepping into her shoes. Hay Fever was not a hard choice, it had been produced 75 years before and 1999 had been Noel Coward’s centenary. I was lucky in having mainly a very experienced cast with a few new actors, always a good mix. The set was fabulous and the costumes beautiful. Lynda Jones produced in her usual efficient way. It was thrilling for me to be so involved in our celebration. We had a party and invited many old and founder members to join us. Members were given anniversary glasses and souvenir bookmarks. Many kind things were said about the production and it was, I hope, a fitting tribute to Stella.

Hobson’s Choice last year, what can I say it was of course overshadowed by Gary’s and Keith’s illnesses. What troupers they both, were never again I hope will we have an actor going on stage after suffering a heart attack during the interval or one who was suffering a bleed in his brain. Both are now fit and well and I hope will not hold it against me!! I really enjoyed Hobson’s, I felt that some of the actors grew hugely in stature during the rehearsal process and pulled out lovely performances, which is a great feeling for a director, and despite everything there was a lovely relaxed atmosphere throughout. The crew and producer Fran were great and very patient with me who likes to get her finger in every pie!

So we come to The Crucible; it just came to mind. It was a play I had enjoyed on stage some years ago and I felt that we could cast it hopefully using some of the younger girls in the group who faithfully come along to Panto each year.I was a child of the McCarthy era but could not fail to know about it, fear can make us do strange things and I think that the basis of the play is still very pertinent today. I kept being asked who was going to produce and had not cast my net very wide when Kate offered! I was delighted and warned her straight away that I like to be involved with every stage, she hasn’t backed out yet and despite having a demanding part in Cash on Delivery has come up trumps with a draft poster and board to use at front of house. I think that this play will be a learning curve for all involved, I have asked Chris Hill to do a workshop for us which I am particularly looking forward to having missed the ones he did for Dream. There are parts for all ages and sexes so I invite you all to come along to the readthrough and auditions. If you cannot make the dates please let us know and we might be able to make another time. The book club girls asked me if I was going to make the next meeting and I said that really my only book at the moment should be the Crucible! It will be demanding and very dramatic but good for the group I think. See you at the next stage, fingers crossed that all goes well.

About the producer

Kate Gamble
Kate joined WDG in 2009 when she took the part of the larger than life ‘Maggie’ in Outside Edge and in 2010 played Mary Smith in 'Run for your Wife', an interesting part to play not least because of the range of emotions the character goes through; anxiety, relief, irritation, confusion, anger and hysteria.  However, the most challenging aspect for Kate was, at the age of 47, appearing on stage in her underwear!!  In 2011 she played Maggie Hobson in 'Hobson’s Choice' and Hippolyta and a dancing fairy in the group’s production of 'A Midsummer Night’s Dream' which was performed both in Lutterworth and at the Edinburgh Fringe.  This year she played Igranie in 'Camelot the Panto' and took the part of Linda Swan in WDG’s latest production 'Cash on Delivery'.
Kate loves being part of WDG as it is such a very friendly, sociable group.  When not acting on stage she helps backstage or front of house and is also a committee member and joint Publicity Officer.
The Crucible is the first show for Kate as producer and she is relishing the challenge of taking on a different role.  

The Cast

Betty Parris
Darcey Conway
Reverend Samuel Parris
Richard Holyoak
Gemma Hill
Abigail Williams
Becky Harwood
Ann Putnam
Hazel Maher
Thomas Putnam
Ian Gibson
Mercy Lewis
Annie Morris
Mary Warren
Olivia Mann
John Proctor
Russ Crooks
Rebecca Nurse
Sally Willcox
Reverend John Hale
Graham Smith
Elizabeth Proctor
Nicky Daniels
Francis Nurse
Richard Sweeting
Ezekiel Cheever
Gary Long
Deputy Governor Danforth
Russell Grant
John Willard
Ian Gibson
Martha Corey
Hazel Maher