Liberty Theatre Department kicks off October with a tale of the Salem Witch found in ‘The Crucible’

Does God desire to punish those who step slightly out of line with fire and brimstone, or is he merciful and slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love? This is the type of debate that plagued the Puritan church and is explored by “The Crucible,” which takes place in 1692 during the Salem Witch trials. The play, written by Arthur Miller, asks hard questions that demand audiences to think deeply about justice, faith and speaking the truth as the characters deal with rumors of witches that scourge the town. 

Alex Schultz plays the role of John Proctor in the show, and Charity Turley plays his wife, Elizabeth Proctor. Both actors highlighted how the deep characterization, elegant writing and attention to issues are what draws audiences in and allows them to connect to the show.

“The writing is brilliant. There is no wrong or right side … the only person who can judge (the characters) is God. I think that is an important lesson for our audiences. As they leave, I think there will be a lot of conflicting emotions, but I hope they come to realize that God holds ultimate truth,” Turley said. 

In a similar vein, Shultz praises the playwright and admits that because his character was so detailed, he was better able to connect as an actor with his role. 

“Because of Arthur Miller’s incredible writing and delicate care that he puts into each of his characters, I could connect with John and his struggle throughout the show to try and keep to what is good and right in the midst of a storm,” Schultz said.  

The excellent writing of the show would be completely missed, though, if it were not for the execution of talented students and staff who put the show together. From the lighting to the props, to the beautiful sets, everything was strategically put together to immerse the audience in the story. 

When audience members first enter the theater, they are instantly whisked away back into the 1600s because of the astonishing set, which surrounds not only the stage but also the audience. The audience is seated around the square stage and actors emerge from behind the audience on all sides and utilize the whole theater, creating a truly mesmerizing experience. Furthermore, half of the audience seating is built to resemble a jury loft from the 1600s and foreshadows the tragic trials that will happen once the show begins. 

Kiser Shelton, who played the character of Deputy Governor Danforth, said he felt the show came together so well because of the unity between the cast. 

“The main thing that can make or break an artistic process is unity or the lack thereof. This show has been a time of special time with special people bringing to life an extremely special story,” Shelton said. “Some times have been harder than others, but as an actor, so much of the beauty and enjoyment in the process comes from searching for humanity in your role.” 

While any good story will have lessons that students can draw about themselves and about God, Turley explains how much of a blessing it is to do a show more directly dealing with Christianity. 

“It’s always special to be in a show that carries biblical undertones because as my character is being challenged spiritually, so am I,” Turley said.

She later mentioned how she often would find herself praying the Lord’s Prayer, not only on-stage as her character but also offstage in her own life. Specifically, the part that states, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” She found herself contemplating how she may be able to apply the lessons her character learns to her own life and hopes the audiences choose a character and do the same when they leave the theater. 

“The Crucible” will be shown from Sept. 29 to Oct. 8 in the Liberty Black Box Theater. To purchase tickets, visit their website.

Freund is a feature reporter for the Liberty Champion. Follow him on X

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