Danforth’s Journal: Week Two

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


Friday, September 30, 2016

OK, so I’ve got to catch you up…(It’s been crazy!)

First of all, that Meet and Greet was (as my 13-year old daughter, Kira, would say) “lit”…It was buzzing in the lobby with everyone gobbling bagels, coffee, meeting everyone…AND, really, I must say…the designs are truly thrilling: costumes by Grier Coleman, and the set by Narelle SissonsDesdemona [Chiang] and everyone have really come up with something for the Paul Green Theatre that (no matter how many times you may have been there) will AMAZE you!

(I wish I could tell, but I CAN’T!!!)

Needless to say, we have been “lit” ever since that day…

Rehearsals began with “table work,” of course, as we heard all the actors read the play for the first time all together…

img_0700photo courtesy of Sarita Ocon

And then, we talked about it; the ideas, the events, the language, the resonances with today…And we heard some of the actual HISTORY of these Salem witch trials! (Dramaturg, Mark Perry and his assistant, Dylan Hedgecock have brought a ton of great research into the room).

Unbelieveable to contemplate our young land (pre-Constitution; pre-Country!) and to realize that we were, in all effect…a theocracy!

Danforth says at one point (I play Thomas Danforth, Deputy Governor of Massachusetts, who comes in from Boston to preside over the hearings and trials)…And he says to a recalcitrant farmer (played by Ray Dooley):

“Now, sir, the government and central church demand of you the name of him who reported Thomas Putnam a common murderer!”

Wow. “The government and central church demand of you…”

And, similarly, later, “Your soul is the only issue here, Mister, and you will prove its whiteness or you cannot live in a Christian country!”

This guy, Danforth, is scared.

He’s afraid of the evil that he senses (and has seen vivid evidence of in court)…He’s afraid that it’s loose and corrupting even the best of people in his counties…And he’s determined to bring back order, justice, and the power of goodness:

“We live no longer in the dusky afternoon when evil mixed itself with good and befuddled the world. Now, by God’s grace, the shining sun is up, and those that fear not light will surely praise it!”


Fear. (Just as Des thought to examine with this play…) What it will do to people…What it will make people do! What it will make people accept, rationalize…Later, Danforth:

“There is fear in the country because there is a moving plot to topple Christ in the country!”

This week we had a our first “stumble-through” with the first-pass at the staging…Exciting, but “miles to go before we sleep…”

Keep checking back for the latest from the rehearsal room, and don’t miss The Crucible, onstage Oct 19 – Nov 6.
Click here for tickets or call 919.962.7529.