Arts & Entertainment

Teens take on 'The Crucible'

The Crucible is a dark tale from the 17th century Salem witch trials in New England.

Kamiakin High drama teacher Candy Olsen chose the stage play, written by Arthur Miller in the 1950s, because she also teaches it every year in her American literature class.

"It is a great, but challenging, historical piece of fiction that I thought well worth doing," Olsen said.

Finding enough males to take the roles of the Puritan accusers was the biggest challenge, she added.

"Kids who haven't done theater before do not realize the tremendous amount of time commitment involved in doing any production, but especially a production of this stature," Olsen said.

Tanner Nugent, 18, who plays Puritan Thomas Danforth, had more lines to learn than most of the cast, he said.

"The hardest part of learning the lines in this play is having to say so much in so little time," Nugent said. "Some of the characters only have a half a sentence, (then) I have to cut them off and state more than a paragraph."

The old English speech, including plenty of thees and thous in the dialogue, was a challenge for most of the cast.

Taryn Meacham, a junior at Kamiakin, is tackling her first lead drama role portraying Elizabeth Proctor, a young woman falsely accused of being a witch by Abigail Williams. The sordid tale gets thicker because Abigail's motive behind the accusation comes after she has an affair with Elizabeth's husband.

"My character at the beginning of the play is very hurt and angry after she learns about her husband's affair," Meacham said. "And without any previous personal experience to base my actions on, I can only image what it is really like being a woman whose husband cheated on her."

Laura Howland plays Abigail. Though her character's behavior is perhaps more evil than any witch, it was Abigail's harshness that she found difficult to portray, as well as learning her lines in old English.

"The lines were hard to learn in this play," Howland said. "Learning the right phrasing for the lines took some time. Abigail was a hard character. Her feelings are difficult to portray."

The Crucible is based on actual events that took place in Salem in 1692, but playwright Miller embellished his story, making it partially fiction. One of those changes was making Elizabeth age 17 instead of the 12-year-old she actually was in 1692.

Showtime is 7 p.m. Nov. 12 and 2 p.m. Nov. 13 in the auditorium at Kamiakin High School, 600 N. Arthur St., Kennewick. Admission is $7 for adults and $5 for students and senior citizens. Tickets available at the door.

The play is not recommended for children.