'The Crucible' cast delivers bewitching performance

Category:  The Arts
Thursday, February 27th, 2020 at 6:20 PM
'The Crucible' cast delivers bewitching performance by Hazel Modlin
Photo: Hazel Modlin

Review: Classic story still has meaning in today's society

Though it depicts the struggle to resist accusations of witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts, Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible” was written during a different unstable point in U.S. history: the infamous Red Scare.

The Edinboro theater groups came together under director Torie Witherow to prove to their audience that the relevance of the play hasn't stopped at either time period. “A lot of people told me we didn’t have to do shows like this anymore,” Witherow said, and she disagreed. “The entire point of this production was to show people [that] while our problems and our languages now compared to 1692 are completely different, people have always been the same. There’s always going to be scapegoating, there’s always going to be paranoia, there’s always going to be fear. Are you going to be compliant in that, or are you going to stand up for yourself? That was my goal with this production.”

Witherow’s reasoning behind the choice of “The Crucible” was both deep and meaningful, but it begged the question, “Would Edinboro’s version of the production be able to live up to its potential?” In my opinion, yes.

To begin, both the cast and crew were sizable. After viewing a few productions at Diebold — the on-campus theater — I think it’s safe to say this is both the biggest and most well-coordinated I have seen the cast and crew. The cast members were larger than life; their lines were delivered with passion, and they were not afraid to raise their voices when their part demanded it. “The Crucible” is filled with witchcraft, so there obviously had to be some bewitching involved, and the girls managed to do a convincing job. There was screaming, crying, pulling at their own hair in fear; the fear they managed to create in their eyes was spot on. This is especially impressive after learning that there were at least a few first-timers in the cast.

Geographic information science junior Kierstyn Mitchell, who played the part of Betty Paris, had never performed on the Diebold stage, despite having been a part of previous high school plays before this. “I really enjoyed [my experience with the theater]. It was really nice to get back into the theater world. I come from a really small school that didn’t have as many bigger productions, so this was really a change of pace,” she said.

Of course, where you have rookies, you must also have veterans to pass down their wisdom and experience. Business major Abby Ricci, who played the role of Abigail Williams, has lost count of how many plays she’s performed in at Diebold. She said, “I only transferred here last year, but as soon as I transferred, I immediately found the theater and have done every show since.”

This brings up another point that Witherow mentioned: Edinboro does not currently offer any theater classes, so there are no theater majors or minors on campus. This means that both the cast and crew are coming in with a variety of talents, something Witherow uses to her advantage.

“We always say, if you can do anything, there’s a place for you here,” she said.

Witherow herself is a senior English literature major, which she considers useful for her research of the shows and her outside knowledge of dramas. Another interesting opportunity that the lack of a theater department presents is that it offers upperclassmen the chance to direct a program. Witherow would not have her job if Edinboro had a theater major, she said, adding, “We are one of, if not the only, student-led theater in the country on the collegiate level.”

In addition to the cast, the crew’s work was also noticeably — or should I say unnoticeably — superb. The set changes were so well-executed that they were difficult to catch in the pitch-black darkness of the theater. Also, the lighting was literally “spot on.” They had just enough light to highlight the outline of the set without overpowering the actors. For special effects, the lights would dim just as a hush was falling over the actors, and these occasions were so perfectly timed that the audience barely noticed the physical difference, but definitely felt the change in mood onstage. During one of the more prominent character’s descents into madness, the lighting turned red ever so slightly, which added much to his development. I had the pleasure of speaking briefly with assistant light director and psychology sophomore Jenny Bechtold, and she spoke some on her experience as a cast member.

“I’ve been involved in quite a few of these productions, and the environment is kind of a cozy, family environment,” said Bechtold.

If nothing else can be gleaned, at least remember the fact that the cast and crew seem to enjoy hanging around each other, both inside rehearsal and out.

“The Crucible” is an inexpensive opportunity to get out of your dorm for an evening. It costs $3 for students to attend. If you are not an EU student, the prices are as follows: seniors, other students and faculty are $5, and general admission is $10. There is still one weekend left to view this production, and it runs from Feb. 27-29 at 7:30 p.m., and on March 1 at 2:30 p.m. The house opens half an hour before each show begins.

Additional Photos:

Photo: Hazel ModlinPhoto: Hazel ModlinPhoto: Hazel ModlinPhoto: Hazel Modlin

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