Arthur Miller’s classic drama has been performed around the world, from main stages to school drama classes since it opened on Broadway in 1953. Looking back on the history of the play, we decided to ask the cast ‘What was your first encounter with The Crucible?’
Julia Blake (Rebecca Nurse): I saw the first English production in 1954 when I was 17 and still at grammar school. It made a great emotional impact, which has always stayed with me.
Grant Cartwright (Reverend John Hale): I was 14 and went with my high school English class to a production at the Riverside Theatre, Parramatta. It was in 1993, directed by Richard Wherrett and John Howard played John Proctor. I can’t remember much about the production but I still have the opening image clear in my head of Betty Parris unconscious in bed.
Anita Hegh (Elizabeth Proctor): On a school excursion I went to see a production at Sydney Theatre Company. I don’t remember Elizabeth Proctor – apparently she was amazing. I remember only being fascinated with Abigail.
Amanda McGregor (Betty Parris): I performed in plays at my local community theatre from a young age and was hypnotised by Miller’s writing when I got to play Mary Warren in Act III’s court room scene. Even at such an age, I was utterly thrilled by the excruciating dramatic tension of Mary Warren’s journey and dilemma. I have wanted to be in The Crucible ever since.
John McTernan (Giles Corey): I saw a school matinee in Sydney in the early 90s. When the lights went down at the top of the show the kids hooted and hollered and generally played up and I feared they were going to ruin the performance. But five minutes in they were captivated and remained so for three hours. This was my first experience of the power of this play.
Elizabeth Nabben (Abigail Williams): I fell in love with The Crucible at 15 when I performed the same role of Abigail in my high school’s production in Sydney. It was a real coming of age for me. Most of the performers filled out their roles with such strength and passion because of Arthur Miller’s superb and inspiring text. I think a few prioritised learning the incredible dialogue over their Year 12 exams! Playing Abigail was the most vivid and liberating experience of my high school life.
Naomi Rukavina (Tituba): I performed in The Crucible 11 years ago at MTC … not Melbourne Theatre Company, but Mordialloc Theatre Company (an amateur theatre company) when I was 19. I again played Tituba but she was very Bajan and in the audition my only reference for an accent was something off an ice tea commercial on at the time!
Edwina Samuels (Mercy Lewis): I studied The Crucible in Year 10. I got to play the male characters because I was the tallest in the class. I often became bored of texts we studied in school, but not The Crucible – it’s such a rich text, so full of life. I remember telling myself whilst studying it that I would never lie again …
James Wardlaw (Ezekiel Cheever): I first read it when I was in high school while I was doing a school production of Death of a Salesman. I first saw it the last time MTC performed it.
Now, we’d love to hear from you – has this production of The Crucible been your first encounter? If not, what was?