Lights went up on an eerie wood paneled stage as the cast of “The Crucible” prepared to take their first bows in front of an audience in the Edgerton Center.
Under the direction of John Flaherty, Sacred Heart University’s Theatre Arts Program (TAP) performed their third production of the semester this weekend. “The Crucible” performance dates were Nov. 10-12 at 8 p.m. and Nov. 13 at 3 p.m.
“We definitely took the more traditional route of the show,” said senior cast member Julianna Rezza who played Abigail Williams. “Here at Sacred Heart, I think ours is going to be very honest to the way Arthur Miller portrayed it.”
Originally published in 1953, playwright Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible” is a dramatized story of the Salem witch trials that took place in the late 1600s. The story follows the mass hysteria of witchcraft as a group of Puritans from New England uncover the truth of what really happened one night in the woods. “The Crucible” won the Tony Award for Best Play in 1953 and was adapted into films in 1957, directed by Raymond Rouleau, and in 1996, directed by Daniel Day Lewis, according to ThoughtCo.com.
Though TAP’s rendition of “The Crucible” included costumes and scenery that take audience members back to that period, they also prepared to incorporate elements of their own.
“While we are keeping the text and the time period loyal to what’s in the script, we’re also going off of it a little bit to make sure it feels loyal in our bodies, and it feels good the way we’re speaking it,” said Rezza. “We’re taking our cues from the script and doing it in a way that’s very honest to Arthur Miller, but also very honest to all of us.”
“The big part that TAP is bringing to [the play]is that we are really trying to understand the characters,” Lauren Baroletti, junior production stage manager, said. “The source material already got it right, so what TAP is doing is we’re taking that and we’re elevating it.”
In terms of elevating the show, Baroletti said that a scene was added in the beginning of the play that shows the “witch dance” leading to the whole series of events of the Salem witch trials that follow throughout the play.
A few of the students that are a part of this production feel that this story was important to tell because its main issues are still relevant today.
“We have the benefit of performing it in 2022,” said junior cast member Colleen DeGennaro, who is playing Elizabeth Proctor. “[The play] is very male centered, and I think a lot of the time, productions of it kind of lean into that and kind of ignore the female stories that are being told. So, we’ve been taking a lot of air to make sure that that’s not the case and focusing on those stories of the women.”
In addition to that, Baroletti said, “This show is very hauntingly true, especially as someone who sees it happening in present day. [With] the mob mentality, the idea of having more people in this mindset to find out who the witches are, and using religion, misogyny and almost control over women, it’s very much a prevalent story.”
Additionally, the cast members were able to learn a lot by being a part of “The Crucible.”
“It’s such a popular play, everyone knows it and can kind of go in with these preconceived notions about it,” said DeGennaro. “I think there’s a lot under the surface that can really be dug into, and I think that going through the process and going through rehearsals and everything, I learned a lot about the play and about the characters, and I’ve really grown to care deeply about it.”
Sophomore Sean Ryan, who played John Proctor, recounts the first time he came in contact with Miller’s work.
“The first time I read ‘The Crucible,’ I was a sophomore in high school, and to be honest, it kind of went over my head. It wasn’t until I was cast in this show that I truly was able to develop a deep appreciation and love for this play,” said Ryan. “Everyone in the cast is incredibly talented.”