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31Oct

The Crucible - Flint Hill School - Oakton, Virginia - October 28, 2017

Grace Jenkins

Westfield High School

 

Solemn faces, placid surroundings, and darkness fill the stage, then screams shatter the silence.  "Witchcraft!" cry the neighbors.  Flint Hill School's production of "The Crucible" brings tears to the eyes of the audience as the actors recreate the emotional battles of the Salem Witch trials.

 

In the early 1950's, "The Crucible" was created by renowned playwright Arthur Miller as an allegory for the U.S. government shunning and rejecting communists and questioning citizens.  The show first premiered on Broadway in 1953 and has continued being performed to this day.  Taking place during the Salem Witch trials, the play follows colonists of Massachusetts as they question one another over their dedication to the church.

 

The cast of "The Crucible" works jointly to form the heart-wrenching production with beauty and simplicity.  The actors bring a window into bleak puritan life and fluidly moved through the scenes.  The cast responds to one another's movements, with each member being fully committed to somber eeriness.

 

John Proctor is a dark character who is difficult to grasp, yet actor Sayeed Akhtar portrays him with maturity and grace.  He remains in the respectful tone of the twisted tale throughout, while bringing energy and intrigue.  The beautiful, realistic fondness between Proctor and his wife is impeccably shown through Akhtar as well as actress Alexandra Wai.  Julianne Cuevo, who portrays the grim Abigail Williams, exhibits immense emotional agony within every scene.  The character of Abigail goes through a plethora of trauma and demonic happenings.  Cuevo depicts this with every line, movement, and facial expression.

 

Innocence within this sinister story seems unachievable, but Hannah Khan portrays the youthful Mary Warren with immeasurable emotion that ignites sympathy.  Khan delivers sassy teenage remarks one moment, then in the next, shrieks into a bone-chilling break down.  Actor George Moacdieh depicts the character Reverend Hale's progression of beliefs so immaculately.  Moacdieh's presence in every scene is that of importance simply because of his physicality.

 

The show presents a variety of ages amongst characters, and the makeup team fulfills this vision through minimalist creations. As the show progresses into somber depths, the cast is transformed into dirt- covered, hollow-faced, reflections of their previous selves.

 

Flint Hill used creative marketing tactics, such as a promo videos and social media, to promote their production throughout the large school as well as their community.

 

Flint Hill School's "The Crucible" combined a variety of unique characterizations to create a contentious community and emotional trauma.  Every character delivered sentiment to the melancholy story, producing a truly bewitching production.


 

Will LeHardy

Washington-Lee High School

 

Scattered across the stage are the stark wooden walls of a house, characters dressed in period clothes nervously wondering about the fate of the girl lying still in her bed in the corner of the room. As the scene ends, the lights dim to a low blue, and the characters, both the jury and the suspects in a trial by a community, begin to move the walls and the bed to the create the next scene. This is one example of Flint Hill School's haunting creativity in their production of The Crucible.

Arthur Miller's drama premiered on Broadway in 1953 and is set in the town of Salem, Massachusetts during the infamous Witch Trials of the late 1600s. The protagonist is farmer John Proctor, played by Sayeed Akhtar, who is at the center of a myriad of witchcraft accusations orchestrated by the young Abigail Williams, played by Julianne Cuevo. While the play is a work of historical fiction, Miller's intent was to have The Crucible stand as an allegory for the paranoia and sensationalism of the communist Red Scare occurring in this country at the time the play was written.

Proctor was played with continual energy; Akhtar never dropping character throughout his performance. His development of his character was clear, his use of firm and intense physicality and his choice of selective actions all showing the subtle yet revealing bits of the protagonist that are hidden within Miller's text. Opposite Akhtar was Alexandra Wai in the role of Proctor's wife, Elizabeth. Wai's commitment to portraying a steadfast and dutiful wife was visible; her cold and collected aura was visible in her erect posture, her reserved way of moving across the stage, and her subdued eye contact with her scene partners.

Other standouts in the cast included Cuevo as Abigail and Hannah Khan as Mary Warren, the Proctors' servant. Cuevo's Abigail was a stirring performance, her expressions chilling the audience as she feigned an intricate lie about the town being run to the ground by witchcraft. Khan's Mary Warren showed a significant character arc, her portrayal at once a timid maid, then a bratty wiseacre, and in the end transformed into a girl driven to insanity by accusations of witchcraft.

The Crucible is known to most as a central work in the American canon of drama, the play itself being taught in many high school English curricula across the country. Flint Hill School's production brings the action back to its classic roots while also adding originality to the haunting drama, showing to the audience that a simple spark in a frightened community can create a fire of chaos.

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