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Washington-Lee High School The Crucible

By • Dec 23rd, 2011 • Category: Cappies

Three black crosses stand back-lit by a blinding white light. The setting looks perfect for some religious ceremony, but beams of gallows bud from each cross like an infected tree branch. This somber setting provides the scene for Washington-Lee High School’s production of The Crucible.

Arthur Miller’s The Crucible won “Best Play” at the 1953 Tony Awards, and served to be a hallmark of American Drama. Miller wrote the play as an allegory for the trials of McCarthyism, since Miller’s friends had been blacklisted and unable to work. The story unfolds many twisted layers, but primarily follows John Proctor, an upright farmer of Salem. When Abigail Williams and the other girls in Salem fall mysteriously ill with fits of screeching and writhing, the Puritans of Salem can find no natural cause and blame witchcraft. This elaborately concocted web snags every inhabitant of Salem, since everyone accused of being a witch turns and accuses someone else.

Even from the very beginning of the show, the girls of Salem dancing around the stage to a pulsing beat like a devil’s heartbeat captivated the audience. The cast permeated the auditorium, using the aisles and the boxes above the audience. A wild, cacophonous shrieking filled the auditorium at the very mention of witchcraft, although at times it was jarring and distracted from the main performers.

The husband and wife team of John and Elizabeth Proctor (played by Jeffrey Warren and Audrey Bowler) had a wonderful stage presence and chemistry. It was a nice respite to hear the two talking in soft, loving tones, in contrast to the frenzied shouting of other characters. Warren did an excellent job with projection, and his emotions were clear in his voice. Bowler’s performance of Elizabeth and the emotional storm that raged under the surface was enchanting, both composed and fighting at the same time.

Abigail Williams, played by Amy Sheahan, was a dynamic force onstage as the seductress of Salem. Sheahan portrayed her character with such snaps of emotion, not only changing her voice, but also hunching over like a beggar the more desperate she got. Another driving force was the bullfrog voiced Giles Corey, played by Sean Gilley. Acting as an old man, Gilley adapted his voice to make it raspier and taking slight pauses between words.

The set for the show excelled beyond its simple design. Three crosses slowly transformed into three gallows, complete with nooses. The different colored lights showed daytime, dusk, and even the sun rising as the white backdrop turned from red to yellow. However, the most dramatic lighting was turning the snow-white curtain into a dazzling, blinding white during the final scene, to show only the black silhouetted gallows.

Washington-Lee proved what The Crucible was meant to, that anything can be used as a warrant for violence, and that the mob does not care for evidence, they are out for blood. Against the black of witchcraft, the red fear of McCarthyism, or the spots that may not be the purest white in our own lives, the lessons of The Crucible will always stay as an anecdote; stay rational, and stay true.

by Hayley Wenk of Langley High School

Photo Gallery

Amy Sheahan (Abigail Williams) and the afflicted girls Rachel Wimmer (Mary Warren) and the afflicted girls
Amy Sheahan (Abigail Williams) and the afflicted girls
Rachel Wimmer (Mary Warren) and the afflicted girls
Jeffrey Warren (John Proctor) and Audrey Bowler (Elizabeth Proctor) Jeffrey Warren (John Proctor) and Audrey Bowler (Elizabeth Proctor)
Jeffrey Warren (John Proctor) and Audrey Bowler (Elizabeth Proctor)
Jeffrey Warren (John Proctor) and Audrey Bowler (Elizabeth Proctor)

Photos by Noah Pilchen

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