Tuesday, July 10, 2012

"The Crucible" by Arthur Miller

In four years of blogging, this is the first play I've read and reviewed. Like most people, I imagine, I just find it weird to sit down and read a play solo. But, I'm teaching The Crucible this fall, so a rereading of this high school staple was necessary.

What I was most struck by is just what great drama The Crucible, a retelling of the Salem Witch trials, makes. I mean, I was angry reading it! I wanted to spit at that smug Abby and knock Danforth senseless. I tensed in frustration as Proctor desperately tries to save his wife's life. And, I even shed a tear at John Proctor and Elizabeth's last conversation as John refuses to save himself by lying and admitting to being a witch. If a play can stir that much emotion read silently, I can only imagine the scenes on stage.

Like the other great play I've taught at the high school level, Inherit the Wind, there's not a ton of depth to The Crucible. Don't get me wrong--there's excellent characterization, clear conflict, and compelling themes, but most of what it is is on the surface. In terms of a text to read, that doesn't bother me, though I have found it can be challenging to pull much from the simpler plays in the classroom. We'll see how it goes this fall, though given my male students' frequent desire to play Juliet, at the very least I do think teenage boys will be clamoring to cry witch as a hysteric teenage girl.

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