Jessica in pink, and Vivian in white wrestle a top a bench during a rehearsal.

Backstage with the Crucible

By Lauren Jurgemeyer
Blog Content Contributor

Under the direction of Michael Costello, the Crucible is an intimate, emotional experience causing the audience to ruminate on themes of persecution, intolerance and hysteria.

One of the most well-known American classics, the Crucible was written in 1953, during the era of the second Red Scare and the Hollywood Blacklist. Veiled as a fictitious rendering of the Salem Witch Trials, the play was meant to alert the public against the government’s corruption.

Grace Hickey, who plays Mary Warren, said the show, “… is an allegory, and though in Miller’s time it was referencing the rise of communism and the McCarthy hearings, its themes can definitely be applied to today’s political and social climate as well.”

Jessica in pink and Jack in plaid confronting each other during rehearsal.
Jack Durham and Jessica Healey in rehearsal for the Crucible. Photo by Lauren Jurgemeyer.

Performed in the round, where the audience sits on all four sides of the stage, the environment strives to incorporate the audience into the world of the show. However, this type of staging presents many challenges to the cast.

Actors must project and articulate every word so that he or she can be heard, make sure that their bodies are never blocking another audience member and they must use their entire bodies to convey emotion rather than just relying on their facial expressions.

Actor Nick Wigg, who plays Giles Corey, jokingly said, “As I have told most of my life, I make a better door than a window. It’s never more true than in the round.”

The Crucible is a play that is taught in schools all over, but each production is different. Costume designer Madison Cagle preached the importance of research when it comes to this show.

“People often take the stereotypical Thanksgiving pilgrim point of dress as fact, when in truth, the Puritans wouldn’t have dressed in plain old black and white–it simply wasn’t practical or feasible,” Cagle said.

She went on to say that she chose specific colors that would have been worn, but she is giving the designs a modern flair with patterns and different kinds of fabric.

The cast and crew are hard at work on this production; Emily Absher, who portrays Elizabeth Proctor, said, “It’s a mountain of a play, but that makes it all the more important and fun to climb.”

Texas State’s production of the Crucible runs Oct. 30 through Nov. 4 in the Theatre Center Mainstage which is just in time for Halloween. Tickets are available online or by phone at (512) 245-6500.

Featured image by Lauren Jurgemeyer.

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