Many are familiar with the witch hunt trials that took place in Salem long ago — how the church took over the courts and thousands of innocent people were sentenced to hang. The Cal Poly Theatre and Dance Department’s production of Arthur Miller’s classic tale, “The Crucible,” audience members were taken back to the time when it was God’s word against your own.
Forestry overtook the stage as a black frame with sharp edges, accented with pieces of tree, and a slanted platform on the stage served as a performance space. The cast sat around it, silent and unmoving as the scenes unfolded.
The play opened with young Betty Parris struck ill in bed. Talk of evil spirits took an even darker turn as Abigail Williams, Betty’s cousin, and Betty herself start accusing women of the town of dancing with the devil. Sabrina Orro had a dark and devilish take on the role of Abigail. She carried Abigail as tall as the tales the character tells. Orro embodied Abigail in her voice and her body as she led the group of children in her schemes and as she attempted to seduce John Proctor.
John Proctor was a hard-working man. Jacob Corsaro as Proctor showed the unwavering strength that was needed during that time in history. In the moments that Proctor’s demeanor began to crack, Corsaro’s face showed the pure despair that his character felt when his wife was taken from him.
Playing Proctor’s wife was Emily Brehm. Brehm showed Elizabeth Proctor’s cold exterior and the inner warmth that she possesses. In each interaction with other characters, Brehm gave her character a stony attitude, but in the most heightened moments, it faded away to show her distress.
Sentencing countless people to their death was Deputy-Governor Danforth, portrayed by Daniel Cook. Cook’s voice was as unwavering as his character’s resolve; while others’ voices cracked under the powerful emotions they possessed, Cook’s remained calm and reserved. This brought a balance to the energy of scenes.
The message of the play was found not only in the casts’ performances, but also in the design of the show — particularly through the use of projections. The multimedia element used images of the documents that detailed the events of that time, pulling out key words and phrases before and after scenes took place. At the end of the show, images and videos played relating Miller’s tale to the instances and occurrences of bias and hatred that are prevalent today.
“I thought it was an amazing way to get the message across,” agricultural communication junior Mary Allen said.
Many attendees were students of the Introduction to Theatre (TH 210) class for an assignment, however, after seeing the set being constructed in their classroom, the excitement of seeing it in use was a big part in drawing them to watch the show.
“We have class in this space so I’ve seen the design of the set, which makes me excited to see it all put together,” child development sophomore Erin Maxwell said.
Putting together the entirety of the show had taken many weeks. Director Heidi Nees discussed the stress of the last week of production, with putting all the elements of costumes, lighting, set and acting together, but felt that the show has gone well since its opening on Thursday night.
“We have a really hard working team,” Nees said. “It takes a lot of work, but in the end it has turned out so well.”