By Alaynna K. McCormick
Tennessee Wesleyan’s Theatre Department pulled out all the stops in their play The Crucible this spring. For those who missed it, The Crucible by Arthur Miller takes place in Salem, Massachusetts and deals with several young girls who, in order to deal vengeance to personal enemies, to appear raised upon a pedestal, or perhaps merely to entertain themselves, begin to declare that they are being tormented and tortured by witches disguised as ordinary townsfolk.
The accused are brought before a court of law in which their only guarantee of being saved from the noose is to confess to crimes of witchcraft and swear themselves reformed. It is a very difficult, dynamic play which even the most skilled troupes struggle to artfully present. However, Tennessee Wesleyan’s all-student cast astonished us all with their rendering of the play.
The set was much more elaborate than Tennessee Wesleyan’s fall play Playboy of the Western World. Not only was the set dynamically layered on multiple levels, but the effects were much more intriguing. A smoke machine between each scene hissed out a misty haze which hung over the scene as young ladies screamed “Witch!” and men desperately lamented the impending hangings of their friends and wives. All of the elements came together to form a mood which students described as eerie and captivating.
In addition to the magnificent stage set, the actors and actresses blew us away with their emotion-filled dialogues. Several audience members could be seen wiping their eyes as John Proctor, played by Merrick Gray, fell to his knees and begged that his name may be spared the damnation his soul would suffer for his falsely claiming to have made a pack with the devil. Another memorable moment occurred when Reverend John Hale, played by Angel Lamb, desperately pled with the accused to lie to save themselves. The internal struggle of being a reverend leading his lambs (no pun intended) astray was clearly written on his face.
I can hardly contain my excitement for next year’s performances, to which we have been informed will number three: Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice, Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, and Mark Hollmann and Greg Kotis’ Urinetown.