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The classic allegory, The Crucible, is being given a contemporary edge in a new interpretation at Joburg Promusica. A host of television stars are in the cast.
Some of the cast of the classic allegory The CrucibleSome of the cast of the classic allegory, The CrucibleARTHUR Miller’s classic The Crucible will be given a modern twist at the Joburg Promusica Theatre, using puppetry and other innovative devices.

The show runs from 7 to 26 March. 

“We know The Crucible is a set work for some of the schools this year, and what with the epidemic of the Limpopo witchcraft accusations that have led to mock trials and killings, which is very much the theme of the play, we thought it would be prominent and relevant right now,” explains the director, Alby Michaels.

The production will transport the 1690s to the present, and allow the audience to experience the terror of living at a time when you could get sent to the gallows by idle lies. Although he has given the story a contemporary edge, Michaels insists he has kept its classical roots.

Miller wrote the play in 1953 as an allegory of McCarthyism, a period in American history rife with mass hysteria and fear of communism. Senator Joseph McCarthy’s House Committee on Un-American Activities tried people accused by their peers and contemporaries of being communist or subversive.

The wild accusations against friends and neighbours that came to define the time, are highlighted in The Crucible, which is set in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692.

It deals with what is now referred to as the Salem witch hunt, and the widespread religious fanaticism that prompted the townspeople to charge each other with the crime of being witches. Many were executed based on these allegations; most were made by a group of adolescent girls.

Michaels, who is a director known for his innovative visual productions, plans to use a variety of elements to highlight the storyline and give his play a different edge. “I am going to use puppetry to show the duality of religion and politics, as well as masks, music and symbolism,” he says.

“It will illustrate that there is always good in bad, and always bad in good.”

He is also planning to emphasise that it is not only a story about the hysteria of the witch trials. “At the heart of it, it is a love story, which is a basic human condition, and I want to focus on that aspect of the work too.”

His aim for the show is for people to walk away from it “accepting human flaws”.

The cast includes Stephen van Niekerk, who plays Daniel in Isidingo; Motlatji Ditodi, who stars in the SABC2 sitcom Askies; Jacques Bessenger, who acts in SABC2’s Huis van Liefde; and Kim Cloete, who played Bianca in Isidingo. Kosie Smit, known for his one-man show Wasgoed, is the set designer.

The Crucible is showing in the main auditorium of Promusica. Tickets are R80 for adults, R60 for children and R40 for fundraising, where a school can buy tickets and re-sell them to raise funds. They can be bought at Computicket. For school or group bookings, contact Queen at queenm@promusica.co.za or Nevolan at nevolanr@promusica.co.za, or phone them on 011 674 1356/7/8/9.

The theatre is at 100 Christiaan de Wet Drive in Florida Park, Roodepoort. The show will run from 7 to 26 March.

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