The professional troupe Blackbird Theater and the Lipscomb University Department of Theatre open their joint production of Arthur Miller’s seminal work “The Crucible” Friday (Feb. 19). The show has a seven-performance engagement through Sunday, Feb. 28 in Lipscomb’s Shamblin Theatre.
The production is directed by Lipscomb Theatre chair Beki Baker, who helmed Blackbird’s critically-acclaimed 2014 staging of George Bernard Shaw’s “Man and Superman” and Nashville Shakespeare Festival’s 2012 well-received offering of William Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” starring NFL legend and current Broadway actor Eddie George.
Set against the backdrop of the 1692 Salem witch trials, this gripping tale is more relevant today than ever. “While Miller wrote the play specifically to address 1950s McCarthyism and the House Un-American Activities Committee ‘witch hunts’, Miller’s themes and characters exploit elements of humanity that transcend any single application,” says Baker. “Of all the ideas explored in The Crucible, including the perversion of justice, the power of collective hysteria, the ramifications of religious fundamentalism, and the need for scapegoats in society – all ideas boil down to one driving element of mankind: fear.”
The cast is led by Nashville actor and arts educator Ross Bolen in the role of John Proctor. “John Proctor is the story’s protagonist,” says Blackbird managing director Greg Greene. “He’s a farmer, and a flawed but noble man whose emotionally distant wife is accused of witchcraft by a rival for her husband’s affection. He must walk the razor’s edge of public opinion while fighting for his family, his freedom, and his life in the face of political opportunism and personal ambition.”
The 24-member cast also features Shannon Hoppe (Elizabeth Proctor), Lipscomb University sophomore Emily Meinerding (Abigail Williams) and Brian Webb Russell (Deputy Governor Danforth), who superbly portrayed Salieri in Blackbird’s excellent 2013 production of “Amadeus.”
“This is a rare chance to fully experience Miller’s riveting script,” Greg notes, “which has been a staple of school reading lists for decades, and which has earned its place at the core of the American theater canon.
“We encourage parents and teachers to bring their middle and high school students to this compelling and thought-provoking show. In the current political climate, this story of power, fear, and resistance has never been more relevant.”
Performances are Feb. 19-20 and 25-27 at 7:00 p.m. and Feb. 21 and 28 at 3:00 p.m. General admission tickets are $17 while student tickets are $5. Click here to buy tickets online now. Lipscomb University is located at 3901 Granny White Pk. You can view a campus map by clicking here.
*Photos by Kristi Jones that include Shannon Hoppe (Elizabeth Proctor), Ross Bolen (John Proctor), Brian Webb Russell (Deputy Governor Danforth) and Emily Meinerding (Abigail Williams) as well as poster art by Derrick Castle courtesy of Blackbird Theater.