Aili Davidson Smith is directing a play at Minot State University this weekend about a spurned lover.
Or perhaps it's about the fear in 1950s about Communism and the House Un-American Activities Committee.
Or maybe it's about the hysteria surrounding the dark episode in our history which gave rise to the expression "witch hunt."
Terry J. Aman/MDN - - Brett Olson as John Proctor shoves Kate Humphreys as Mary Warren, a suspected witch, to the ground in anger in the Minot State University production of Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible.”
Terry J. Aman/MDN - - Women of Salem, Mass., dance in the woods with Teresa Hargrove as the slave woman Tituba, center, giving rise to fears of witchcraft when villagers start falling ill.
Terry J. Aman/MDN - - Khristy Anderson as Betty Parris is prayed over by Daniel Johnson as Rev. Samuel Parris in the Minot State University production of Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible.”
Terry J. Aman/MDN - - Brett Olson as John Proctor, right, seduces Brittany Armstrong in MSU’s production of “The Crucible.”
In fact, Arthur Miller's "The Crucible" is all that.
"The question is, how does that relate to the here and now?" Smith said. "I want the audience to leave wondering how they'd react in a similar situation. 'What would I do if someone asked for names?' 'What if it happened to me?' It's about what we do in a state of crisis."
Based on real history, but with some characters changed for dramatic impact, Miller tells the story of 1622 Salem, Mass. when several children, for unknown motives, began accusing people of being witches. He aged the real Abigail Williams, played by Brittany Armstrong, to give her a backstory of having had an affair with John Proctor,
Performances of Arther Miller's "The Crucible" are at 7:30 p.m. today through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Aleshire Theater at Harnett Hall. Tickets are $6 for adults, $5 for seniors and students and free with MSU ID for faculty, students and staff.
played by Brett Olson. She wants to marry him, so takes advantage of the whisper of witchcraft to denounce his wife Elizabeth, played by Peg Morris.
"We have many new faces," Smith said. "There are also some community members, including Katie Langemo and C.J. Leigh (as Ann and Thomas Putnam) and Derek Smith (as deputy governor Danforth). We had Kristen Boeshans do a dramaturgical presentation of the social status of women and the societal belief in witchcraft at the time.
"Men treated women so differently," she explained. "There's a moment when Brett has to throw Kate to the ground, and he had to work to make it 100 percent believable."
The fight scene was another challenge, with Olson doing the choreography.
"That's just about the most difficult kind of acting, keeping it safe for the actors," Smith said. "One second of fight time takes about an hour to choreograph."
Another bit of choreography was added to the opening for this production, and helps explain the slave Tituba's importance in the community.
Tituba, played by Teresa Hargrove, takes some of the girls into the forest, and in these Puritanical times, are accused of cavorting with the devil in dance.
Khristy Anderson, who choreographed this with Smith, plays Betty Parris. Betty is overcome during the dance, and it is her faint which begins the witch-hunt. It soon gets out of hand, with mass hysteria among the girls in the tight-knit community, and accusations shot out almost at random, ensnaring high and low, male and female.