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The Salem Witchcraft Crisis: Adding Perspective to Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible”

In coordination with Lamb Arts Regional Theatre’s presentation of Arthur Miller’s drama “The Crucible,” March 2 through March 18, we’ll be examining the true events on which this gripping play is based.

“The Crucible,” first produced in 1953, was inspired by the parallel between the happenings in Massachusetts in 1692 and the McCarthy era panic over the influence of Communism in the United States. The play was not originally successful, but later productions soon proved that it is a durable, enthralling piece of theatre that has be- come a classic. Audiences through the years have easily made con- nections to their own times, while enjoying the play as sheer theatre.

Miller shaped a thrilling work using much of the actual events and characters from Salem. This presentation will explore the occurrenc- es he was able to so cunningly use as raw material.

While much factual material is available from this long-ago era, countless questions present themselves. Was there actual devil wor- ship in Salem? How much of the events were the result of mass hys- teria? What part did greed for land and personal revenge play? Were powerless young women consciously or unconsciously manipulating

gullible men who were in charge? Did dogmatic Christian beliefs blind some to more common-sense explanations? Could a hallu- cination producing fungus have played a role in this? What was the influence of the Indian Wars on the moods of the times? We’ll investigate these questions and more. We’ll also touch briefly on the McCarthy era that Miller’s play grew out of.

The Salem Witchcraft Crisis was relatively minor in the entire scope of American history, but it has fascinated generations and brought the term “witch hunt” into contemporary language. Local actor Bill McKenny will strive to put this era into perspective and help you deepen your enjoyment of Lamb’s production of this great American play.

: Advanced Sciences Bldg., Room L416/417, Entrance 11, Parking Lot 3
Fee: No charge / Max: 100
Lifelong Learning membership not required
Course #18/FY-CPDV-2798-02 


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