The Crucible

by Arthur Miller

directed by Harry Tuffill

Performed at the

Nuffield Theatre

on

Tuesday 2nd to Saturday 6th February 2010

The show was a resounding success and played to full houses almost every night of the run.

Director's Notes

The point is - this really happened; almost exactly as Miller presents it. All the characters in the play were real people; all the records of the trials are still retained at the Peabody Institute near Salem. The two children who started the accusations were Betty Parris and Abigail Williams with prompting from Ann Putnam.The hysteria grew during the next six months and by September 1692 twenty-four had been hanged, the prisons of Boston, Salem, Cambridge and Ipswich were full with hundreds more committed and awaiting trial. The event that started a reaction in the public mind was the awful death of Giles Corey in an open field where he was stripped of his clothing, thrown upon his back and heavy weights were placed on his body until he was pressed to death.

Miller wrote the play as a result of his experience with the commission set up by Senator Joseph McCarthy. This exchange between Miller and the prosecutor, Arens, could have been spoken by John Proctor in the play:
MR ARENS: "Tell us, if you please, sir, about those meetings with the Communist party writers which you said you attended in New York City... Can you tell us who was there when you walked into the room?"
MR MILLER: "Mr. Chairman, I understand the philosophy behind this question and I want you to understand mine. When I say this, I want you to understand that I am not protecting the Communists or the Communist Party. I am trying to, and I will, protect my sense of myself. I could not use the name of another person and bring trouble on him ... I take the responsibility for everything I have ever done, but I cannot take responsibility for another human being."

The first Puritans had migrated to New England in The Mayflower in 1620 and in the intervening years more than 30,000 had joined them. In the winter Massachusetts is a hostile place and there was always the danger of attacks from the native Indians. The society had been held together by a combination of state and religious power, but the time had come when the repressions of order were heavier than seemed warranted by the danger against which the order was organised. The balance had begun to turn toward greater individual freedom, and this, the struggle between order and freedom, is the central theme of the play.

These events still resonate in the United States. When I visited Salem in late October I went to the Memorial Garden, opened by Arthur Miller in 1992, where I found a couple of recent roses on the headstone to Rebecca Nurse. Someone, clearly, still cared! She was finally cleared of being a witch in 1954.

Harry Tuffill


Arthur Miller (October, 1915 - February, 2005)

Arthur Miller was an American playwright and essayist. He was a prominent figure in American theatre and cinema, writing a wide variety of dramas, including plays such as The CrucibleA View from the BridgeAll My Sons and Death of a Salesman, which are studied and performed worldwide. Miller was often in the public eye, most famously for refusing to give evidence against others to the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), being the recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama among countless other awards, and for his marriage to Marilyn Monroe. Miller is considered by audiences and scholars as one of America's greatest playwrights and his plays are lauded throughout the world.

He was born to moderately-affluent parents who immigrated, as Jews, from Poland to the United States in Manhattan, New York City, in 1915. He lived there until the Wall Street Crash of 1929 after which his family moved to humbler quarters in Gravesend, Brooklyn.

Because of the effects of the Great Depression on his family, Miller did not have money for college and before securing a place at the University of Michigan, he worked in a number of menial jobs to pay for his tuition. At University he first majored in journalism, and later switched to English. On August 5th, 1940, he married his college sweetheart, Mary Slattery, the Catholic daughter of an insurance salesman. The couple had two children, Jane and Robert. Miller was exempted from military service during World War II because of a high-school injury to his left kneecap. Robert became a director, writer and producer who was, among other things, producer of the 1996 movie version of The Crucible.

In June 1956 Miller left his first wife Mary Slattery, and on June 29, he married Marilyn Monroe. Miller and Monroe had first met in April 1951, when they had a brief affair, and had remained in contact since then. Later that year he applied for a routine renewal of his passport, the HUAC used the opportunity to subpoena him to appear before the committee. When Miller attended the hearing, Monroe accompanied him, risking her own career. Miller was found guilty of Contempt of Congress in May 1957, and fined $500, sentenced to thirty days in prison, blacklisted, and disallowed a U.S. passport. In 1958 his conviction was overturned by the court of appeals.

After his conviction was overturned, Miller began work on The Misfits, which starred his wife. Miller said that the filming was one of the lowest points in his life, and shortly before the film's premiere in 1961, the pair divorced. Nineteen months later, Monroe died of an apparent drug overdose.

Miller married photographer Inge Morath in February, 1962, and the first of their two children, Rebecca, was born that September. Their son Daniel was born with Downs Syndrome in November, 1966, and was consequently institutionalized and excluded from the Millers' personal life at Miller's insistence. The couple remained together until Inge's death in 2002. Arthur Miller's son-in-law, actor Daniel Day-Lewis is said to have visited Daniel frequently, and to have persuaded Arthur Miller to reunite with his adult son.

Miller's career as a writer spanned more than seven decades, and at the time of his death in 2005, Miller was considered to be one of the greatest dramatists of the twentieth century. After his death, many respected actors, directors, and producers paid tribute to Miller, some calling him the last great practitioner of the American stage, and Broadway theatres darkened their lights in a show of respect. Miller's alma mater, the University of Michigan opened the Arthur Miller Theatre in March, 2007. Per his express wish, it is the only theatre in the world that bears Miller's name.

 
The Cast
Rev. Samuel Parris Ian Wilson
Betty Parris Beverley Griffiths
Tituba Jenni Watson
Abigail Williams Gemma Aked-Priestley
Susanna Walcott Alex Austin
Mrs Ann Putman Philippa Burt
Mr Thomas Putman Pete Hamilton
Mercy Lewis Angharad Price
Mary Warren Catherine Tarrant
John Proctor Steve Cosier
Rebecca Nurse Avril Woodward
Frances Nurse Alan Watson
Giles Cory John Souter
Rev. John Hale Matt Avery
Elizabeth Proctor Ruth Kibble
Marshall Herrick Carl Browning
Ezekiel Cheever Paul Baker
Judge Hathorne David Jupp
Deputy Governor Danforth Steve Clark
Hopkins, Prison Guard Andy Burrows

Production Team
Director Harry Tuffill
Director's Assistant Sarah-Jayne Wareham
Production Manager Christine Baker with Jo Iacovou
Stage Manager Kathryn Salmon
ASM and Prompt Lyn Austin
Costumes Serena Brown assisted by Susan Wilson
Properties Ella Lockett, Gill Buchanan. Alison Tebbutt
Set Design Pete Liddiard
Sound Design Geoff Grandy
Sound Operation Geoff Grandy with Geoff Wharam, David Illsley
Lighting Design Clive Weeks, Jamie McCarthy
Music Design Mike Bailey
Musicians Catherine Tarrant, Ben Clark
Set Construction Roger Lockett, Geoff Cook, Alan Rowe, Graham Buchanan, Pete Liddiard, Ryan Duch
Crew Geoff & Pam Cook, Andy Burrows, Carl Browning
Set Dressing Sarah Russell
Marketing/ Publicity Angela Stansbridge, Anja McCloskey, Pam & Geoff Cook, Sarah Russell
Front of House Peter Hill and members of The Maskers
Photography Clive Weeks
FOH Display Sarah Russell
 
 

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