Thurs 31 Jan - Sat 1 Mar 2008

An Octagon Theatre Production
DIRE ORS                                                                    fl otEs
When Arthur Miller wrote The Crucible in 1953, the
                                     American people had been, for some...
Like the alleged witches in The Crucible, witnesses            senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or
so   °BD                                           s, •        ,

                                 which my reading of American history could not
The crucible programme
The crucible programme
The crucible programme
The crucible programme
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The crucible programme

  1. 1. Thurs 31 Jan - Sat 1 Mar 2008 An Octagon Theatre Production octagon EI tHE CIWCIBLE By Arthur Miller *oft are Prqduct - Go to 1. Sue Hodgkiss, DL • Principal Patron Principal Sponsor
  2. 2. DIRE ORS fl otEs Early 1950s, Senator Joseph McCarthy leads special congressional committees intended to root out communist sympathisers in the United States. Like the Salem trials in 1692, suspected communists were encouraged to confess and identify other as a means to escape punishment. False accusations perpetuate a climate of hysteria as people attempt to save themselves, but some, like Arthur Miller, refuse to give in to the questioning. Those branded as communists, and those people who refused to incriminate their friends, are blacklisted. Hysteria, paranoia and intolerance threaten and tear communities apart, and one doesn't have to look very far to see that The Crucible is an incredibly Mark Babych, Director of The Crucible potent play for today. Early 1692, Salem, Massachusetts. Over the past three seasons we have produced A group of young girls fall ill, suffering almost all of the major works by Arthur Miller, a man whose moral compass enables us to see the hallucinations and seizures. In world and ourselves with a startling naked reality. theocratic Puritan New England, this For these are real people that populate his plays could only mean one thing; the devil and, as such, their lives burn deeper into you and was on the loose. Unable to attribute expose and touch parts of you that sometimes you the sickness to natural causes, the would prefer to lay dormant. One theme in particular seems to permeate and weave its way inexplicable symptoms spur fears of through nearly all his work, and that is how difficult witchcraft, and very soon the girls, it is to lead a good and honest life. In John Proctor and many other residents of Salem, this theme finds powerful expression in a man who begin to accuse other villagers of casts away his reputation, and ultimately his life consorting with the devil and casting because he will not lie and sign himself to lies. spells. Old grudges and jealousies fan Once again it has been a real pleasure to share the the flames of hysteria. The theocratic rehearsal room with this heavy weight of American government machine rolls into action Theatre and like all great plays it still packs a punch and within weeks, dozens of people as powerfully as it did when first it entered the ring. are in jail charged with witchcraft. By Mark Babych August 1692, nineteen people (and Octagon Artistic Director and two dogs) had been convicted and Director of The Crucible hanged for witchcraft. Created by a Jetsoft Share Product - Go to to get your own copy today!
  3. 3. When Arthur Miller wrote The Crucible in 1953, the American people had been, for some time, in the grip of an anti-communist crusade that denounced not only communism but any kind of leftist thinking which challenged the rigid social Darwinism of the American Dream. In the attempts to obtain confessions and the names of others culpable, Miller saw a similarity with the methods used in 17th century Salem. This inspired him to write the play whose real subject - although ostensibly an event of the distant past - cannot have been lost on any of the audience at the time. In the early 1950s, this latter-day witch-hunt was given its ferocious drive, and thus its name, by Senator Arthur Miller in 1960. Miller drew Joseph McCarthy. However, although McCarthy is inspiration from modern day popularly associated with the House Un-American McCarthyism to write The Crucible. Activities Committee, which largely pursued this campaign, he was never in fact one of its members. The HUAC was actually set up by Congress towards the end of the 30s. America at that time was sharply divided: right-wing ideology was spreading across Europe, and to be a communist in 30s America was, among other things, to put on record your opposition to this ideology. Franklin D Roosevelt's New Deal, instituted to pick up the pieces of a Depression-shattered economy, began to look disappointingly tame to those on the left and alarmingly red to those on the right. In response to the early HUAC investigations, the major Hollywood studios rushed out propaganda films to prove their loyalty. Life became precarious for writers and performers, especially in the brave new world of TV, where right-wing corporate sponsors called the shots. In his autobiography, Timebends, Arthur Miller recalls how his friend Pert Kelton was summarily sacked from her role in the popular sitcom The Honeymooners because she and her husband had participated in a May Day parade many years earlier. Book-burning also became popular, and John Steinbeck's The Grapes Of Wrath was one of the first literary casualties of the American red scare. When Joseph McCarthy was elected to Congress in 1946, he was not at all notable as an anti-communist. His parocular hallmarks were ambition, unscrupulousness and a talent for manipulating the press. It was not until 1950, while seeking an angle for
  4. 4. Like the alleged witches in The Crucible, witnesses senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or before HUAC were told that if they admitted their our recklessness." As McCarthy tried in vain to defend "guilt" and informed on their "co-conspirators", mercy himself, Welch added the now legendary line, "Have would be shown unto them. If, however, they refused you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you to cooperate, they could expect to go to prison. A few left no sense of decency?" chose prison or voluntary exile, but they were a minority. Some publicly confessed to having been "dupes" of the The case ended with a mild knuckle-rapping to both communists and yet others embraced the full sides, but it spelled the end of McCarthy's career. recantation charade, naming the names of former When the Democrats regained control of Congress, he radical associates whose identity the committee already was officially censured and relieved of his posts. knew. There were also, of course, plenty in Hollywood Although he continued to sit as a junior senator, few who positively rejoiced in the anti-subversive crusade. now bothered to stay and listen when he made one of The film Big Jim McLain, in which co-producer and star his increasingly rare speeches in Congress. John Wayne played a HUAC investigator, was dedicated to the men of the Committee. McCarthy died only two and a half years later, but McCarthyism lived on. People in all walks of life Meanwhile, McCarthy's nemesis was at hand. It came continued to be dismissed from jobs and to find about partly through his Chief Counsel, Roy M Cohn, themselves on unofficial blacklists, not because some whose close friend David Schine also worked for committee in Washington decreed it, but because ordinary McCarthy. When Schine was drafted into the Army, people were willing to throw one another to the lions Cohn pulled out all the stops to try to prevent it. to protect themselves. Americans were no longer just McCarthy, who was already investigating alleged afraid of communists: they were afraid of each other. communist influence in the Army, joined Cohn in taking on that institution in a series of televised hearings run Gradually, towards the end of the decade, things by the Investigations Subcommittee, with Senator Karl began to ease up. Arthur Miller was one of the last Mundt sitting in for McCarthy as Chairman. The Army prominent victims of HUAC. He refused to co-operate accused McCarthy and Cohn of using intimidation to with their enquiries, and the apologetic judge at his seek special treatment for Schine, while McCarthy trial in 1957 imposed a fine and a suspended 30-day counter-charged that the Army had held Schine as a prison sentence. The conviction was subsequently "hostage" to prevent the investigation of communists overturned in the court of appeal. in the armed forces. As the 50s gave way to the 60s, the Cold War came to During the 36 days of the hearings, people were able be fought more externally than internally. for the first time to see their hero in full thrust, telling McCarthyism, however, never fully went away. It goes blatant lies, presenting falsified evidence, and bullying without saying that, even now, a communist could not witnesses and committee members alike. Fortunately, get elected to office in the USA. the Army's counsel, Joseph Welch, was one person who was not afraid of him, and fearlessly exposed his lies Dennis Feftham Research by Robert Cohen and fabricated evidence. He denounced McCarthy for his ruthlessness, telling him that, "Until this moment, Lo John Good .4101' Senator McCarthy with aides Roy Cohn and David Schine 414
  5. 5. so °BD s, • , •s• Ila sP • _ X >- s XV Y,1 sir 61.Z ' 1, rg • r Y. 4, ,• 4, CI )(V 4t," •• „ ". - if ; 0 _ xxsv 1 xxv -- Tens ions in sawn' 1N • Village were worsened by arguments ov er gaining independe nce from S alem "C° n punished, as dancing, games, gambling, insecure and paranoid. As drunkenness and even idle conversation were Proctor says in the play, he was regarded as means by which the devil could all too apt to "preach only hellfire enter a soul. For girls and women particularly, and bloody damnation", provoking life was passive and dutiful, as only men could some of his flock to withhold payment vote and take an active part in affairs. Bearing all of the ministry tax. this in mind, Frances Hill, in her book about the witch trials, A Delusion Of Satan, contends that the It was in Parris' household that the Salem girls were suffering from the same hysteria began. Betty Parris, the nine- condition of clinical hysteria as Freud's patients - year-old daughter of Samuel and his repressed members of 19th-century society - sickly wife Elizabeth, and Abigail, their whom he and Breuer described, two hundred years eleven-year-old niece, who lived with later, in Studies On Hysteria. them, started to behave oddly in January 1692. They were soon joined by Elizabeth In Salem Village, where the outbreak took place, the Hubbard, the Putnams' young daughter Ann - tensions felt by most colonists were exacerbated by a Ruth in the play, but in fact named after her history of local antagonisms. The arguments were mother - Mary Walcott and Mercy Lewis. As Betty mainly connected with land rights and with efforts to confessed a few weeks afterwards, she and Abigail gain independence from Salem Town, several miles to (possibly with others) had been passing the long, dark the east. In 1672, the villagers had built their own winter days in the illicit pastime of fortune telling, and meeting house, but there were those who did not wish scared themselves. There is no reason to think that to sever links with the town, preferring Salem's more Tituba, the family's West Indian slave, was behind this. cosmopolitan outlook. The colonists had carried with them, from Europe, a belief in witchcraft and interest in the occult, so the The pro-separation faction was led by the Putnam ideas of which the children made use, although family, prosperous landowners who displayed a prohibited, were all around them. tendency for bullying tactics, especially when frustrated in their attempts to run village affairs. An ongoing Tituba, however, was the first person accused by the subject of dissent was the appointment of a local girls of bewitching them. Parris found his slave a minister; Samuel Parris - a Putnam nominee - was the convenient scapegoat and was eager to elicit her fourth, his predecessors having fled the curitentious confession, but Tituba, aespite i.s beatings, did not community rather sooner than expected. But Parris was confess to guilt straight away. While she held out, the
  6. 6. • . •pro"..), 7 - 1 )5( WV..lit; • 7.17:0 4* A... avd: ••• e....!:‘1. ;'.:6••• . ^" •• A - 7lashu• d .4,01. ...a XI, Ai' '1, ...,4... A...4,9(A'. •1 . 1.4 (.""TA. 4 • •' ,714411.• ONAli2e. ,g1/41‘. ••44..., .r.' • .469. 44,4,ratej.100.2... h 44..066.4.0 Mi., ▪ s•• • Ay, ira: it • Ato , 620. , ego ,/.0 • .. art v. /Lits.1.• 441;Vt../etiA.. ' ht.s•• eat Awe .4 A 4 a- F. • .4, 111.161 4,4•11.. . 3.r • Apar Opposite page, far left: irig; 4;:e • ete, - .4,64 ..• / fr. '1 Arresting a witch: the $41..,414.r orjoor 649104.* /1&411.0-.1;..g:s....11.4we' accusations of the girls led to a 4 a Lty.4 4tiva. FN' "AV, . deluge of imprisonments for 41..4 of r•••s ' i.e. W.-4ov ie., women in Salem „Ale .6...11...ser. • ••• 4.0.. • isa haw« a*, • ,S,At. • Aer. .fai•of;-. Opposite page, middle: Mary Warren turning on John Proctor in the original production of The Crucible, 1953 e,werioj 1.7A, ArAgon- r e le7,1 . - Art. 4 :" 1-.E1) t . • ',":hcf wIrol.)0+4, Left: Bridget Bishop's death t .714rot. nerd: ,,e;y:F4eir. tess,/1:4 e,c14%.44;,_ ssi •s warrant, 10th June 1692 )efTZ •rt3, *- 0(e:lirrii 1- it witchcraft, no actual trials were able to take place until It was not until May the following year that the June. The colonists' charter had been revoked in 1684, governor ordered all accused witches still in jail to be and it was not until May 1692 that a new one arrived discharged, and even then a number remained, unable by ship, along with a new governor, Sir William Phipps. to pay their prison fees. Many of the authority figures Finding himself faced with a desperate situation, Phipps involved, including Hathorne, showed no remorse. quickly set up a special court to deal with the crisis. Samuel Parris, fighting unsuccessfully to retain his job, admitted only that he might have been slightly at fault. In the trials that followed, the girls' former testimony was accepted as hard evidence, which the defendants, Ann Putnam, at the age of 26 and after the death of with no lawyers, were unable to contest. When Bridget her parents, made an apparently full public apology, Bishop became the first to be hanged, on 10 June, one declaring that she had not acted out of "any anger, of the judges resigned and the ministers of Boston malice; or ill will to any person”, but had been wrote to Phipps, urging caution, but neither Phipps nor "deluded by Satan". All that is known of the other the remaining judges appear to have taken any notice. girls is that Betty Parris, Mary Walcott and Mercy Lewis The hangings gathered pace. married and moved away from the area, but there is no information about Mary Warren or Abigail Williams. Five people were executed in July, five in August and There is sad testimony that one of the girls involved nine in September, eight of those in one day. Perhaps was genuinely out of her wits. John Hale a keen - the sight of so many hanging from one tree brought witch-hunter until his wife, too, was accused wrote - about a belated sense of disgust, but there was gathering that one of the first "afflicted persons" was "followed uproar and 22 September witnessed the last of the with diabolical molestation to her death". That person may hangings. On 12 October, Phipps wrote that he had have been Abigail, but, as with so much else in this forbidden any more people to be imprisoned for witchcraft, story, the truth must remain in the realm of speculation. and on the 29th he dissolved the court. His doubts about the whole process roust have crystallised mat Julia Elliot month, when the girls named his own wife as a witch! © John Good
  7. 7. IWCIBLE which my reading of American history could not reconcile with the free-wheeling iconoclasm of the country's past. I saw forming a kind of interior mechanism of confession and forgiveness of sins which until now had not been rightly categorized as sins. New sins were being created monthly. It was very odd how quickly these were accepted into the new orthodoxy, quite as though they had been there since the beginning of time. Above all, above all horrors, I saw accepted the notion that conscience was no longer a private matter but one of state administration. I saw men handing conscience to other men and thanking other men for the opportunity of doing so. I had known of the Salem witch-hunt for many years before "McCarthyism" had arrived, and it had always remained an inexplicable darkness to me. When I looked into it now, however, it was with the contemporary situation at my back, particularly the mystery of the handing over of conscience which seemed to me the central and informing fact of the time. One finds, I suppose, what one seeks. I doubt I should ever have tempted agony by actually writing a play on the subject had I not come upon a single fact. it was that Abigail Williams, the prime mover of the Salem hysteria, so far as the hysterical children were concerned, had a short time earlier been the house servant of the Proctors and now was crying out Elizabeth Proctor as a witch; but more - it was clear from the record that with entirely uncharacteristic fastidiousness she was refusing to include John Proctor, Elizabeth's husband, in her accusation despite the urgings of the prosecutors. Why? I searched the records of the trials in the courthouse at Salem but in no other instance could I find such a careful avoidance of the implicating stutter, the murderous, ambivalent answer to the sharp questions of the prosecutors. Only here, in Proctor's case, was there so clear an attempt to differentiate between a wife's culpability and a husband's. The testimony of Proctor himself is one of the least elaborate in the records, and Elizabeth is not one of the major cases either. There could have been numerous reasons for his having been ultimately apprehended and hanged which are nowhere to be found. After the play opened, several of his descendants wrote to me; and one of them believes that Proctor fell under suspicion because, according to family tradition, he had for years been an amateur inventor whose machines appeared to some people as devilish in their ingenuity, and again according to tradition he had had to conceal them and work on them privately long before the witch-hunt had started, for fear of censure if not worse. The explanation does not account for everything, but it does fall in with his evidently liberated cast of mind as revealed in the record; he was one of the few who not only refused to admit consorting with evil spirits, but who persisted in calling the entire business a ruse and a fake. Most, if not all, of the other victims were of their time in conceding the existence of the immemorial plot by the Devil to take over the visible world, their only reservation being that they happened not to have taken part in it themselves. It was the fact that Abigail, their former servant, was their accuser, and her apparent desire to convict Elizabeth and save John, that made the play conceivable for me. As in any such mass phenomenon, the number of characters of vital, if not decisive, importance is so great as to make the dramatic problem excessively difficult. For a