Sunday, February 25 , 2018, 6:10 pm | Fair 59º


PCPA Presents ‘The Crucible,’ a Timely Tale of Public Paranoia

Be afraid, be very afraid. In Arthur Miller’s masterpiece play, The Crucible, an invisible enemy unleashes a dangerous hysteria.

“From time to time, we human beings have periods of moral panic that overtakes us,” said Mark Booher, artistic director for Pacific Conservatory Theatre's production of The Crucible.

The Crucible is one such timeless telling.

The play will be staged Feb. 15-March 4 at Marian Theatre, 800 S. College Dr., Santa Maria.

While focused on literal witch hunts, The Crucible is also an allegory for any number of misguided crusades through the ages, including ominous opinions against select groups of people in our current state of the world, PCPA said.

“Fear permeated society at the time of the McCarthy hearings on un-American activities when Arthur Miller wrote this play, and fear permeates the world of The Crucible,” said director Roger DeLaurier.

Paranoia is a powerful agent, like a physical contagion, and it can spread swiftly with a devastating force and tear the social fabric to tatters.

DeLaurier observed that the community in 1692 which Miller has created, is ruled by theocracy, the church law and state law are one in the same. Sin and the status of the individual soul are matters of public concern.

“It’s a time that is, frankly, to our point of view, intolerant of anything that deviates from a prescribed way of being,” DeLaurier said.

When The Crucible was first performed in New York in 1953, audiences were acutely aware of the similar perverse injustices of past and present, though the play only speaks directly to a tragic period in American history when a group of girls took possession of Salem and were responsible for sending 19 honest men and women to the gallows.

The Crucible won the 1953 Tony Award for Best Play.

The Daily News wrote of the opening performance “... the piece is just what it sets out to be: a tragic drama about the historic Puritan purge of witchcraft. It is, as it ends, the story of an upright man who finds within himself the courage to be hanged rather than to confess a guilt he does not own.”

DeLaurier said John Proctor's journey is one that should resonate with everyone.

“In a world that has become hysterical, how do we retain our goodness and make our way through this severe test amid a society in tumult?" he asked. "John Proctor’s very human journey is one we can all recognize.”

Under DeLaurier's direction, the design team includes:

Scenic designer Jason Bolen, costume designer Eddy L. Barrows, lighting designer Tim Thistleton, sound designer Andrew Mark Wilhelm, fight choreographers Mark Booher and Peter S. Hadres, voice and dialect coach Kitty Balay, and movement by Katie Fuchs-Wackowski. Stage Manager is Ellen Beltramo.

The cast of some 30 includes resident actors Don Stewart as Rev. Samuel Parris, Karin Hendricks as Mrs. Ann Putnam, Erik Stein as Thomas Putnam, Andrew Philpot as John Proctor, Peter S. Hadres as Giles Corey, George Walker as Rev. John Hale.

Polly Firestone Walker as Elizabeth Proctor, Brad Carroll as Francis Nurse, Leo Cortez as Ezekiel Cheever, Mark Booher as Deputy-Gov. Danforth, Katie Fuchs-Wackowski as Sarah Good, and guest artist Rosh Wright as Rebecca Nurse.

Second-year acting student Skye Privat plays Abigail Williams.

The Crucible is presented by special arrangement with Dramatists Play Service, Inc. New York. PCPA's production is sponsored by Judge and Mrs. Jed Q. Beebe, Nancy K. Johnson, Franca Bongi-Lockard, Ron and Mary Nanning.

Tickets are $34.50-$46.50, with discounts for senior, student, child, military, and preview performances Feb. 15-16. Pricing is based on day, time, and may increase upon demand, PCPA said. Pay-what-you-can performance is Sunday, Feb. 18.

Call the box office, 922-8313, or visit

— Craig Shafer for PCPA.

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