Emily Anne Pugsley and Nathaniel Exley are among the cast members in the Canadian College of Performing Arts production of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. The college is putting a rather dystopian spin on the story for the play, which runs Dec. 12-14 at the CCPA performance hall. Photo courtesy CCPA

Classic tale of intolerance and morality updated for the CCPA stage

Arthur Miller’s witch hunt parable, The Crucible given a dystopian spin by performing arts college

By Felicia Santarossa

Monday Magazine contributor

A post-modern witch hunt comes to the Canadian College of Performing Arts Dec. 12-14, as students transport Arthur Miller’s 1953 tale of morality and intolerance, The Crucible, from 1600s Massachusetts to 50 years in the future.

Director Caleb Marshall describes it as what the world might look like if religious militias took over part of the United States, a regressive regime was in place and life on Earth was imploding due to the effects of climate change. There’s been a complete denial of science, he says, not to mention a rolling back of human rights and a belief that the dying world is “God’s wrath and punishment.”

Such a scenario could almost be imagined, if some of the extremist movements growing in the U.S. right now were to progress further, Marshall adds.

CCPA has made some changes to the original script, such as words, place names or characters to better suit their concept for the production, but for the most part, Marshall says, “the script really holds well.” The cast members have dived right in and are handling the text well, he adds.

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One change made to better reflect this year’s ensemble was to convert the role and concept of Barbadian slave Tituba. For this production, “gender traitors” – those who identify as LGBTQ – are portrayed as the “lesser race.”

“Anyone with a different gender or sexual identity is considered a lesser human,” Marshall explains. “We are not in any shape or form trying to make Tituba a black person without having a black actor, we’re just reimagining a completely different slave of the future.”

The dystopian take came after Marshall watched the television adaption of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. He compared it to when a Shakespeare play is set in more modern eras, adding it helps from the audience perspective to make the story more current.

“I do believe theatre should spark a dialogue, and theatre should reflect the key conversations and issues that we are confronting here and now,” he says.

The Crucible plays at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 12 and 14 in the CCPA performance hall, 1701 Elgin Rd. A matinee is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 13. Tickets and more information are available at ccpacanada.com/thecrucible.



editor@mondaymag.com

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