The Crucible comes to town

By Casey Peacock: PNT Staff Writer

Based upon the Salem witch trials of 1692, The Crucible performed by the Portales High School theater group will open at 7 p.m. on Saturday, in the Performing Arts Center. The play continues Sunday and Monday.

Written by Arthur Miller in 1953, the play deals with the repercussions of hysteria and panic caused by the purported use of witchcraft by young girls in the town of Salem, Mass., while also paralleling the McCarthyism era.

“The Crucible is very hard because it deals with subjects high school students are not dealing with yet,” said Bill Strong, PHS theater director.

With a split cast of 11 boys and 11 girls, the group has put in an estimated 80 hours of rehearsal since August, said Strong. Coinciding with the English department teaching of The Crucible, the students are able to have a deeper understanding of the play. It is allowing them to keep up with the history, said Strong.

“It is educational and challenging,” said Strong.

By performing the play, the students have gained a better understanding of the Salem witch trials, said Strong. At the same time the director says they’ve improved upon their acting skills and enhanced their empathy for others.

“There’s some very good characterization going on,” said Strong.
Marley Armstrong will play the role of Abigail William’s, who is described as a harlot and instigator of the supposed witchcraft. A senior this year, Armstrong has some apprehension about playing the part of William’s, she said. Armstrong describes William’s as a very spiteful and angry person, something that is different from her personality, she said.

“It’s really a challenge, said Armstrong. “I’ve never played someone who is really bad to the core.”

From the beginning, the play has been student-oriented, said Strong. Students from the first clothing and costume class ever offered at the school where responsible for sewing a majority of the costumes. Design and building of the set was also done by a student, said Strong.

“The class did do well on the costumes,” said Strong.

Student set designer Janet Walker has been hard at work for the last nine weeks designing and building the set, she said. Battling a month-long illness during the process has also been a challenge. With this experience, Walker hopes to build a portfolio to help her with scholarships to college, to further her education in set design, she said.

“It’s amazing, said Walker. It’s been a really good growing experience.”
Playing the role of Edna Wright, one of Abigail’s followers, freshman Bianca Nunez is a little on the nervous side about the upcoming performance.

“I’m kind of excited about it, because it is my first play,” said Nunez.