Back again to Collingwood for their first term production. This one was a big one! We did Arthur Miller's The Crucible, although this production was based on his screenplay. It had a cast of 43, including 6 members of the faculty!
The play begins in the woods, with the girls of Salem sneaking out to cast love spells. They were quite spooky, flitting around the darkened stage, howling.
After the girls are found out, two of the younger girls, Betty Parris and Ruth Putnam, lie in bed, comatose.
We meet Abigail, our villian, and Mr. Parris, the local minister.
Abigail is sent for the doctor, only to find out that Ruth Putnam is also comatose.
Rebecca Nurse, a well-respected woman in the community, is brought in, and dismisses the girls' conditions as part of the melodrama of childhood.
The coif I made for Rebecca was, by far, the most elaborate and time consuming of the 26 coifs I made for the show, but I was really pleased with the results.
The set (designed and built by Mike Schaldemose, who also played Parris) was beautifully simple and versatile, with just a couple of vertical flats supplying houses, churches and barns.
We learn that the girls are faking their comas, and Abigail threatens the other girls into going along with her cover story.
The slave, Tituba, was played by a very talented young woman, who gave an enlivened performance. We had to make some armour for her to wear under her bodice, so that Parris could beat her on stage with realistic effect.
We meet John Proctor, the married man Abigail is obsessed with, and learn of their affair. These two actors played Mozart and Constanze, the year before, in Collingwood's production of Amadeus, and had a great chemistry together.
We meet John Proctor's wife, Elizabeth, and their neighbors, the Coreys, who come to give them the gossip of the town. We also learn about John's affair with Abigail, and the strain it's put on their marriage.
Reverend Hale, the special expert on witches, arrives to investigate the mysterious doings. Both Proctor and Rebecca regard this as a worrisome development.
Reverand Hale begins interrogating the girls. We discover Abigail's skill at lying, manipulation, and leadership, as the girls all follow her lead. The deflect the negative attention on themselves, by accusing other people in the community.
They start to arrest people, including Martha Corey, who speaks out agains the trials.
The judges (played by teachers) arrive with a mandate of seeking out and destroying any devilish influence. And the trial begins...
We hear various testimony, from individuals, including Martha Corey, the beggarwoman, Goody Goode, who is the ultimate scapegoat, and Ruth Putnam.
Mary Warren, who works for the proctors, gives Elizabeth a doll, which Abigail uses to accuse Elizabeth of witchcraft. Elizabeth is arrested and says goodbye to her boys.
The most powerful scenes in the play where the "mob mentality" scenes, where two dozen girls all acted as one, under the influence of their charismatic leader, Abigail. It really gave the audience a feel for how the Salem witchhunt spiralled out of control.
I had to build two costumes each for John and Elizabeth Proctor; one broken down after their times in prison. I tea-stained and painted the costumes, and beat them with hammers to rag them up a bit. Which was kind of fun.
The biggest challenge with this production was the sheer size of it. But, it's always a lot of fun working with the talented kids at Collingwood and their dedicated teachers.
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