by Arthur Miller
After whimsically singing and dancing through last spring's comedic "Spamalot," Lakeland College theater students will shift artistic gears when they tackle this fall's "The Crucible."
"It is much darker than anything I've done," says Brook Bignell, a freshman from Plymouth, Wis., who plays the role of accused witch Abigail Williams.
"The Crucible" is a dramatization of the Salem witch trials of the 1690s. But there's an underlying theme as well. Written by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Arthur Miller, the play doubles as an allegory for Sen. Joseph McCarthy's anti-communism crusade in the U.S. in the 1950s.
This year's fall production, presented by Lakeland College students and faculty, runs from Nov. 13-15 at 7:30 p.m. and on Nov. 16 at 2 p.m. All shows will be performed in the Bradley Theatre, and tickets can be purchased online below. For information, call 920-565-1238.
"Part of what we try to do is bring a variety of plays here, so that when students are at Lakeland over the course of four years, they have some exposure to different kinds of plays. Also, people in the audience get to see a variety of plays," says Charlie Krebs, Lakeland's associate professor of theatre and communication and director of theatre.
Prior to writing "The Crucible," Miller was charged with contempt of Congress after being questioned about sympathizing with communism. The play was written to protest what Miller considered a political witch hunt.
"This play is more on the serious side, and there's a lot of danger," says Jody Harrison, a sophomore from Pontiac, Mich., who portrays tragic hero John Proctor. "There are a lot of emotions flying everywhere. I think this play will actually draw the crowd in. They will be into the play, paying attention to details."
Adds Kathryn Zielsdorf, a junior from Kenosha, Wis., who plays Elizabeth Proctor: "It's very different than what I've done in the past, very dark, with a lot of different emotions I have to play. It's very challenging, but I like it a lot. I think the audience will be really surprised by some of the things that happen — surprised we're taking on such a big, dramatic piece."
"Many people are aware of the play, and it's a beautiful piece of literature," Krebs says. "The size of the show is good for Lakeland because it gives a lot of people a chance to perform. I think we have 22 people in this play, so that gives a lot of people opportunities."
Krebs says his student actors and actresses are "stepping out on a limb, trying new things" while preparing for this challenging, complex piece and its richly developed characters. He expects "The Crucible" to be a big hit – with those who perform it and those in the audience.
"I think there's a real human element in this play," says Krebs. "It certainly touches on the theme of integrity, and in our world around us, especially at a time when we so often hear in the news about people that don't have integrity.
"For the characters in this play to step up for what they believe is right, that's real human drama. These people are willing to sacrifice their lives for what they believe is right. It's a good lesson. The students are connecting with it, I'm connecting with it and I think the audience will connect with it as well."
There's already one audience where a connection has been made. Area high school students will be treated to a special Friday matinee after Krebs reached out to teachers earlier this spring, inviting them to the production. "The Crucible" is often a part of high school English classes' curriculum, Krebs said, so it was a natural move to invite high school students. There will also be a 45-minute discussion prior to the performance where the actors can talk with the audience.
"The teachers are very excited," Krebs said. "They've been doing some workshops in their schools based on what they're reading and also based on what we've told them on how we're doing this production."
November 13, 14, 15 at 7:30 p.m.
November 16 at 2 p.m.
Tickets: $10 adults
$5 students anywhere
To order tickets call (920) 565-1228, or complete the form below: