Arthur Miller’s The Crucible directed by David Morgan is showing at the Margetts Theatre of the Harris Fine Arts Center at BYU until April 8.
The Crucible is a play set in Salem during the late 1600s and reveals the tragic story of the witch trials and what happens when people’s actions are influenced by fear. Rumors of witchcraft spread in the community and false accusations are told, which leads to the death of several characters.
BYU professor and director David Morgan said this production is a cautionary tale of what could happen when people are affected by fear.
Morgan said all of the characters will be wearing masks during most of the production, except John Proctor, the main character, who is his true self the entire time. The masks are used as metaphors to show people are afraid of being judged and use masks to protect themselves.
“At that time, Puritanism was a really straight-laced society, which bred a lot of fear in the members of the society,” Morgan said. “A lot of what happened in the witch trial came out of their fear of each other and things they were actually not showing on the surface and hiding underneath.”
Morgan said the production could be seen as a metaphor to the Mormon society in Provo today.
“We live in a very Mormon society; obviously, the Mormon society is not nearly as judgmental as the Puritans were, but is still similar,” Morgan said. “For the most part, especially in Utah Mormon society, a lot of the Mormons feel like they have to present a facade of themselves, and it is similar to what they are doing within the play.”
BYU pre-theatre arts education student Jessica Ashby, who plays Betty Parris, said this production is very unique because of the masks the performers wear and what the masks symbolize.
“They are symbolic of all the false images and lies we use to hide who we really are,” Ashby said. “It brings an extra layer of character honesty to the show that most others don’t have.”
BYU acting student Spencer Hunsicker plays Reverend Parris and said his character was easy to relate with.
“His primary motivation throughout the piece is fear, and I could definitely relate to that,” Hunsicker said. “I have absolutely done terrible things when being motivated by fear of judgement or lack of acceptance in the community, whatever that community may be.”
Hunsicker said he thinks the concept of the production is very applicable to the BYU community.
“Members of any community can be pressured to do really awful things in an attempt to meet the ideals and expectations of that community, at least externally,” Hunsicker said. “I hope people will see it and feel encouraged to analyze how their own behavior might be reflected in the play.”
Morgan said Arthur Miller is one of the best playwrights in history, and the play should be seen by everyone.
“It has a good message about being real and being who you are and standing up for the right thing when people around you are judging or misjudging you,” Morgan said.