by Arthur Miller
director’s notes by Georgia Mallory Guy, artistic director of ThinkTank Theatre
I first read “The Crucible” for Mrs. Davis’ 12 th grade AP English class in the fall of 1998. We would read the script aloud in class and were then led in lively discussions around the universal themes present in Miller’s carefully crafted characters, situations, and the historical context – doomed to be repeated, obviously. (I won’t go into the parallels Miller draws as they are there and obvious – but he did say, “What terrifies one generation is likely to bring only a puzzled smile to the next.”)
Since leaving Mrs. Davis’ class some 20 odd years ago, I’ve had the privilege of seeing “The Crucible” produced at least five times, and my impulse to tell this story began pulling at me. But how should it be told? How simple can we make it? In a 1996 article that appeared in The New Yorker Miller said, “I am not sure what “The Crucible” is telling people now, but I know that its paranoid center is still pumping out the same darkly attractive warning that it did in the fifties… The thing at issue is buried intentions—the secret allegiances of the alienated heart, always the main threat to the theocratic mind, as well as its immemorial quarry.”
Let’s start with the people. We have all been the heartbroken, the betrayer, the betrayed, the zealot, the righteous, the wise, the elder, the younger, the authority, the community member, the ethical, the leader, the follower, the fearful, the enduring, the list goes on. We have an open and versatile room, a few chairs and tables, lights that enhance the visual palette, costumes that feel just familiar enough, sounds adjacent to the angst we feel for what we’re watching. Leave the actors there, let the viewer see them come and go, always watching the action, stepping in from the sides. Let it be just epic enough, just theatrical enough, just human enough.
Because human flaws are beautifully imperfect. Everyone in this story is wrong. Everyone in this story is right.
Ars Longa, Vita Brevis
– Georgia Mallory Guy, September 2023