Castleton Theater Arts Department updates ‘The Crucible’

When Arthur Miller wrote and released the play “The Crucible” in the early 1950’s, he knew a witch hunt when he saw one. Centering on the story of fallout from a scandalous relationship during the Salem Witch Trials in 1690, Miller’s classic “The Crucible,” bolstered by his own studies of the colonial hysteria, is widely believed to be a symbol for the McCarthy era of American politics and anti-communism.

And beginning on Sept. 21 at 8 p.m., the Castleton State College theater arts department will cut to the quick in their production by setting it in McCarthy’s 1950’s.

“We are putting a spin on it that will really surprise our audience and I think truly please them and make them think,” said Christina LaBarge, who plays Abigail Williams, a villainous woman who sets much of the play’s conflicts in motion.

Much like McCarthy, the former junior senator from Wisconsin who set off a hunt for communists in congress and the United States in an effort to bolster his power, Abigail accuses townspeople of black magic and witchcraft to raise her own power and status among a community that looked down on her.

But as many discover too late, she uses this power only for her own desires.

Director Steve Small, who joins the cast as a special guest from the Addison Repertory Theater at the Patricia A Hannaford Career Center in Middlebury, said Miller’s original production meant to hold a mirror to the McCarthy era as it was performed during that time.

The updated setting however, works for today’s audiences.

“That’s why we moved the mirror a little closer,” he said.

“The Crucible” is the first production of the semester, and although it’s only been roughly a month since the classes started, the cast and crew are ready for action.

“I think the production as a whole is coming together very nicely,” said Stage Director Katherine Bernhard. “The first show of the year is never easy, but this cast is rising to the occasion beautifully.”

“They’re really working hard,” said Small, “and I’m very confident that it’s going to be a very good show.”

“The Crucible” runs from Sept. 21-23, at 8 p.m. and again on Sept. 24, 2 p.m. in the Fine Arts Center. Tickets are $8 for the general public, $4 for Castleton students (with a student ID). The play also counts as a Soundings event and tickets are free for Soundings students (also with an ID).

The full cast, in order of appearance, is as follows:

Betty Parris- Heather Barnes
Reverend Samuel Parris- Bryon Schmidt
Tituba- Victoria Vondle
Abigail Williams- Christina Marie LaBarge
Susanna Wallcott- Eliza Baker
Ann Putnam- Michelle Ross
Thomas Putnam- Matthew Donnelly
Mercy Lewis- Eva Zimmerman
Mary Warren- Summers Eatmon
John Proctor- David Gabaree
Rebecca Nurse- Flo Keyes
Giles Corey- Julian DeFelice
Reverend John Hale- Sam Ducharme
Elizabeth Proctor- Lauren Martin
Francis Nurse- Matthew Howk
Ezekiel Cheever- Jesse Durona
John Willard- Austin Shafer
Judge Hathorne- Michael Trzciensky
Sarah Good- Michelle Page

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