As Halloween nears, the 1690s Salem Witch Trials will take center stage as The Pumphouse Players’ perform “The Crucible.” Opening Friday at 8 p.m., the play will be presented at The Legion Theatre, 114 W. Main St.
“We selected ‘The Crucible’ to be a part of this season for several reasons,” said PHP President Will Brooks. “First of all, we were looking for something that would be a nice tie-in to the Halloween season, and we thought witchcraft certainly fit the bill. We were also trying to have a nice mix of classic and newer titles in this season and when this show was suggested by a member, the board all kind of unanimously said, ‘Yes. We should absolutely do this show.’ We’re all fans of this story.
“We also liked the fact that it had some educational connection with the high schools in the area as many are reading ‘The Crucible’ in their English classes now or will be very soon. We thought it could be nice for the kids that are reading about the show to have a chance to see it staged, to provide a more visual context for what they are studying.”
Following Friday’s show, “The Crucible” — directed by Suzanne Husting — will be performed Oct. 10, 16 and 17 at 8 p.m. and Oct. 11 at 3 p.m.
“The play is a somewhat fictionalized account of the Salem Witch Trials that took place in Massachusetts in 1692,” Brooks said. “The playwright Arthur Miller had just been called into the McCarthy hearings in the mid-1950s and was asked to name any communists that he knew. He refused to do this and was very much against these hearings. Soon after that he visited Salem and made the connection between the two events — events where accusations went wildly out of control.
“The plot of ‘The Crucible’ concerns the story of John and Elizabeth Proctor — played by [me] and Cindy Higgins — and how they deal with the repercussions of being accused of being witches in the newly settled and Puritanical area we now know as New England. A group of young girls, led by Abigail Williams — played by Peyton Hudson — begins to accuse various people of the town of witchcraft after they are caught misbehaving in the woods. Abigail, in particular, has some ulterior motives regarding the Proctors.”
Referring to it as a “dream role,” Brooks is delighted to have the opportunity to portray Proctor.
“[I] couldn’t be happier to be taking on such an iconic role,” he said. “I first saw ‘The Crucible’ when I was 15 and have wanted to be a part of it since then. I’ve particularly had my eye on this role since I first saw it. He’s such a flawed character, who is ultimately good, but has to go through so much personal torment to come to that realization. Couple the opportunity to convey such a range of emotion with the incredible words that Arthur Miller provides the actors, and it pretty much defines the term ‘dream role.’”
With the play featuring 20 actors, Brooks said the cast is a blend of young and old performers.
“I am always blown away by the quality of actors that we have at our fingertips here in our local area,” Brooks said. “People like Mike Davis, playing Rev. Samuel Parris; Michele Williams, playing Tituba; Ian Gibson, playing Rev. John Hale; Laurel Lowe, playing Mary Warren; and all the others in this cast of 20, amaze me every night at rehearsal. There’s too much talent in this town, whether it’s with Pumphouse, Act I or the newly formed TheatreExtreme, for people not to support the arts here locally.”
For Lowe, bringing her character to life is presenting a “rewarding challenge.”
“I will [be] portraying Mary Warren, the servant girl of John and Elizabeth Proctor,” Lowe said. “Mary Warren is an interesting character, constantly in a state of indecision, anxious and desperate to find a place in which she belongs. The real Mary Warren that lived in 1692 was an orphan and had to work to support herself, details that Arthur Miller doesn’t explicitly mention in the play, but that certainly added to my portrayal of her. John Proctor, both in life and in Miller’s characterization, was a man known for whipping his servants, and Mary’s life was not necessarily an easy one.
“Because of the conflict between her internal struggle and the pressures from those around her, delving into her character has been a rewarding challenge. It’s been approximately four years since I appeared on stage, but Suzanne has put together a cast with such fantastic chemistry that everything feels very authentic. When Mary Warren is caught in the middle of Abigail Williams (Peyton Hudson), John Proctor (Will Brooks) and the Deputy Governor (Rich Goodman), the play is kicked into overdrive, and I’m excited for Cartersville audiences to see what we’re bringing to life. I’ve never been a part of anything like this.”
Tickets for “The Crucible” are $15 for general admission, $12 for PHP members and $10 each — when purchased online — for groups of at least 10 people. Due to adult themes, the play is recommended for theater patrons 13 and older.
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit http://pumphouseplayers.com or call 770-387-2610.
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