What’s immediately striking about Durango High School Troupe 1096’s production of Arthur Miller’s play “The Crucible” is what you see and hear.
The set is sparse – bare tree branches and minimalist sets perfectly capture the Puritan time period. The minimal lighting, and music from a live, lone cellist, provide a moody, spooky tone.
And that’s before the actors even take to the stage.
The cast of about 30, led by director Ben Mattson, have conjured up an enthralling play that, despite the 1692 setting, is just as relevant today.
“We may not be Puritans with a rigid set of social and religious regulations, but we are a divisive nation, many of us clinging to the faith (sometimes blindly) that our political parties are just and right,” the play’s director’s notes say. “We, as a nation, point fingers back when accused, and many innocent are demonized and take the fall for the hysteria created when we are divided and afraid. ‘The Crucible’ shows us the struggle of staying grounded in such a heightened political environment, where the ideals of truth and integrity aren’t always enough to save you from the dire outcomes of hysteria.”
“The Crucible” is about the surrounding community of Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692, the site of the Salem witch trials. The townspeople are convinced there are witches among them, and no one is safe from accusations of consorting with the devil.
Junior Siena Widen, who plays Abigail Williams, says that performing in “The Crucible” is a challenge because it’s a different style of show than she’s used to.
“Usually, I do a lot of musicals that are upbeat and happy. This is very serious – but it’s refreshing,” she said. “I really like getting into the emotion of it – with musicals, you can get into it, but it’s harder. With a show like this, it’s serious, and you really get into the emotional rawness of it. I’ve found some really beautiful things within myself because of it.”
For senior Egan Lindsay, who plays the tormented farmer John Proctor, getting the emotion was difficult, but “the lines are the biggest thing – the language is old English, so it’s hard.”
And for Mattson, the troupe is up to the challenge of such a serious, intense show.
“Despite the heavy subject matter, this show has been a joy to work on,” he wrote in his notes. “We have crafted a world of fear, urgency and danger where one wrong step can land you in a noose. Thank you for joining us on our journey back in time; perhaps it will serve as a mirror where we can see ourselves a little easier, helping us understand how to respond to our world around us.”