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Monday, February 6, 2023

Theater

Classic play brings out historical baggage


UH is all set for the two week run of the 1953 Tony award-winning play “The Crucible,” which opens Friday in the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center.

Written by Arthur Miller, a Pulitzer Prize award-winner, this play is a dramatization of the 17th century Salem Witch Trail.

Many historians and critics have referenced the play as a symbolic representation of 1950s McCarthyism and that era’s “red scare.”

“It was Miller’s response to interrogations that were happening during the red scare period,” said Benjamin Reed, who plays the role of John Proctor, the main character whose wife is accused of witchcraft.

American citizens accused as communists or communist sympathizers during the early 1950s were blacklisted by the US government and questioned by the House of Representatives’ Committee on Un-American Activities.

Miller was one questioned by the committee.

“Miller saw a lot of parallels between the two events — a cycle of fear and power of group thinking and hysteria that can take over a town like a virus,” Reed said. “So it’s very relevant to our generation, which is very politically detached.”

17th century colonists weren’t accustomed to reading, and most depended on the church to provide them accurate information; the church would distribute pamphlets on accounts of witchery.

“It is a very historical American play,” said Elizabeth Jordan, a dramaturgy major at the UH who conducted the research and analysis of that historical period to prep the actors.

“You’ve got adultery, beating and whipping; you’ve got hallucinations; you’ve got courtroom drama,” Jordan said. “It’s a drama.”

Gus Kaikkonen, artistic director of the Peterborough Players, a New Hampshire based company, is directing the production.

Showtimes are scheduled for 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday and March 1-3; and 2 p.m. Sunday and March 4.

Tickets are $20 for the general public, $15 for faculty and staff, and $10 for students and seniors. Tickets can be purchased at the box office in the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Performing Arts.

For more information on the play, visit www.uh.edu/class/theatre-and-dance.

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