THS Theater Arts produces ‘The Crucible’
By DIANE MAYFIELD AND CATHERINE KINGSBURY
TEMPLETON — “Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it” has proven true time and time again. One of the best ways to learn about history and ourselves is at the theater. Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible” concludes its run this week at Templeton High School, and the community is invited to experience an important time in American history and consider what it can teach us about our own time.
Miller’s classic tale of mass hysteria stemming from petty grievances and false accusations takes place in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692. This series of events is often referred to as the Salem witch hunts, or witch trials. Miller, however, was actually drawing a parallel between that dark period in American history and another dark period, the so-called Communist “witch hunts” of the 1950s, when the play was written. Miller himself was questioned by the House of Representatives’ Committee on Un-American Activities in 1956 and convicted of contempt of Congress for refusing to identify others present at meetings he had attended.
Theater Arts director Catherine Kingsbury chose “The Crucible” for her students to perform in part because of her personal philosophy regarding the educational aspects of theater. “Where possible, I try to line up our production season with what the students are studying in their other classes, whether it’s English, history, or even art or engineering. A number of recent studies have demonstrated that watching live theater performances can enhance student learning in other academic areas. Live theater benefits the entire school.”
Considering the current social and political climate, the message of “The Crucible” is just as relevant today as when it was written. Themes of betrayal and revenge, love and redemption, otherness, and the devastatingly destructive power of fear and perverted justice are evoked in this powerful and deeply moving drama.
“Performing a play has an even more profound impact on learning than observing one. By immersing themselves in these characters — who are based on real people who really lived through these experiences — the students develop empathy for those who are different from them, and will be better equipped to draw parallels between the past and the present,” Kingsbury says.
Maddison Smith, who plays the role of Abigail Williams, says she has been able to empathize with women of the era.
“I realized how much oppression they had to live with and how they had to find creative ways to exert their power,” Smith said.
Understanding the emotions of her character has been a physical experience for Avery Jones, who plays the part of Mary Warren.
“She is a very nervous person and I had to figure out how to make that something people could see on stage,” Jones said.
Working to understand the experiences and motivations of others can help build bridges between people who might otherwise feel divided.
“The Crucible” may be a great place to start the conversation about perception and truth, and could be the spark for building bridges between members of our own community.
Performances will be at the Templeton Performing Arts Center on Nov. 14-16. Thursday and Friday evening performances begin at 7 p.m., with Saturday matinees at 4 p.m. Tickets are available at https://thscrucible.bpt.me. Adult tickets for “The Crucible” are $12 and student/senior tickets are $10 (all students and seniors 55 years old and older).
Due to the success of THS football this year, they will be hosting their second CIF game against Kennedy on Friday, Nov. 15 at 7 p.m.
If you would like to attend the performance of “The Crucible” that evening, consider parking at the district offices on Old Country Road and walking through the tunnel to the TPAC.
There will be golf carts available to transport those with limited mobility.
You may also want to arrive early to get better parking.
The theater doors open at 6:30, but concessions will be available starting at 6 p.m.