The Crucible Offers Look At Hysteria, Paranoia And Danger Of Witch Hunting

Monday, October 30, 2017

Back Alley Productions is set to produce Arthur Miller’s legacy drama, “The Crucible,” with performances at the Mars Theatre on Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. from Nov. 10-18, and a special 2:30 p.m. matinee on Sunday, Nov. 19. 

Tickets are available online at, or at the lobby 30 minutes before showtime. The historic theater is at 117 N. Chattanooga St. in LaFayette.

Review for The Crucible: 

The Crucible is considered to be among Miller’s best plays, and is set during the Salem Witch Trials, a dark period in American history where ordinary citizens were tortured and even killed for being accused of witchcraft. Miller used the guilty-until-proven-innocent mentality of Salem as an examination of his own experiences with the McCarthy hearings during the 1950s. In was then that several prominent Americans, including Miller, were accused of national treason and links to Soviet communism, with little or no evidence. 

“The Crucible is such a powerful show and I’m glad to have such a talented cast to put it on,” said show director Joseph Henry Watts, who is making his directorial debut with Back Alley Productions. “Arthur Miller has always been my favorite playwright, and The Crucible has always been a dream of mine to direct. The show is powerful, dramatic, and has such great moments for theatre audiences to enjoy.” 

The story is told primarily through the eyes of a farmer named John Proctor, who suffers from the downfall of his community after several young girls attempt to conjure spirits in the woods. When caught, the girls accuse other inhabitants of Salem of practicing witchcraft. Soon their childish finger-pointing spirals into mass hysteria wherein everyone is a potential witch, leading to a cycle of distrust, accusation, arrest, and ultimately conviction. 

This production forgoes traditional 17th century Salem for a 1950s look and feel that Miller was familiar with, all in order to bring the metaphor of the Red Scare to the forefront, while drawing allusions to our own modern world.  

"The story of a community - pastors, farmers, lawyers and families - all leaning into their worst selves through paranoia and accusation is a powerful message for today,” said Mr. Watts. “While this production is apolitical, I think it’s fair to say that in our current political climate everyone, regardless of background, has developed a sense of fear from those they disagree with. Miller is definitely using both instances of the witch trials and McCarthyism to warn audiences of the cost of such fears and hysterias.” 

Mr. Watts adds that the production will be performed in Alley staging. 

“We’ve thrown away the idea of performing the show in a typical proscenium-style fashion,” he said. “The show will be performed in a transverse stage style known as Alley Staging. This is the first attempt at this unique staging strategy from Back Alley in an attempt to truly show the depth, hysteria, and paranoia based in The Crucible.” 


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