Danforth’s Journal: Week Three

PlayMakers company member Jeffrey Blair Cornell is keeping a journal of his impressions of the process for creating our upcoming production of The Crucible. Keep checking back for more updates as the production comes together.

Friday, October 14, 2016
Some unsettling things have come up as we’ve been rehearsing…

Plays are, of course, always about more than the specific story that happens… So, while adolsecent girls in the play experiment with dancing in the woods and thinking about love (and sex), the grown-ups are searching desperately for the cause of a mysterious illness that seems to be striking them… And there’s fear in that search:

“Oh, my God! God help me! Betty. Child. Dear child. Will you wake, will you open up your eyes! Betty, little one…”

Who the grown-ups look to blame is revealing… Instead of heeding any sensible advice to wait until the “spells” pass, certain among the villagers look for evil among their neighbors for the explanation. There seems to be in this fear the opportunity to settle scores and, notably, to punish difference

They quickly turn on Tituba, the black slave, for singing her Barbados songs and “sending her spirit out” upon the girls to gather souls for the Devil:

“You will confess yourself or I will take you out and whip you to your death, Tituba!”
“This woman must be hanged! She must be taken and hanged!”

dsc_0135crop Schuyler Scott Mastain, Shanelle Nicole Leonard, Gabriella Cila, and Jim Moscater. Photo by Laura Pates.

Soon, Goodwife Good (old and poor, that sleeps in ditches and smokes a pipe) and Bridget (that lived three year with Bishop before she married him) are also charged… And then, the accusing cries call out all “free-thinkers” that dared stray from the Gospel’s orthodoxy, and eventually… even those who have been pillars of the local community:

Rev. Hale: “Though our hearts break, we cannot flinch; these are new times, sir. There is a misty plot afoot so subtle we should be criminal to cling to old respects and ancient friendships. […] We dare not quail to follow wherever the accusing finger points!”

New times. So, old moral standards and traditional loyalties are not enough to protect us in times of subtle, “misty plots”… So, throw them out. Do whatever is necessary. Whatever it takes. Whoever it hurts.


Why not.

Later in the play, (small spoiler alert!) John Proctor is imprisoned and brought in after having been kept in isolation and tortured… There was discussion in rehearsal concerning the nature of that torture, and whether he would be wearing a bag on his head when he’s brought in…

The image of Ariel [Shafir] being brought in, shackled, with a bag on his head brought back searing images of Abu Ghraib. Is that a good thing? Does it throw us out of the world of the play? Or does it assure the contemporary relevance of this story?

Tech Weekend comes… Sets. Lights. Costumes. Time to put this all together!
fullsizerender2 Director Desdemona Chiang and the cast in tech rehearsal

Did you miss the first few weeks of Danforth’s journal? Here are Week One and Week Two.
The Crucible is onstage October 19 – November 6. Click here to get your tickets now, or call 919.962.7529.