By Ivan Cazares
Students of the East Los Angeles College Theater Arts department will present a contemporary interpretation of Arthur Miller’s celebrated play, “The Crucible,” from May 17-26.
Kelly Hogan, the production’s director, said they will be breaking the play down to its essential elements and will use minimal set pieces.
Miller’s play is a dramatization of the Salem Witch Trials that took place in Massachusetts during the 1600s.
It’s an allegory for McCarthyism and the persecution of people believed to be communists by the U.S. government.
The plot follows an investigation into an alleged case of witchcraft in a Puritan town that threatens to expose an affair between a local farmer and a girl suspected in the investigation.
It’s driven by the lies each character tells to project a facade to the rest of the community.
“Thematically, I think the play is about truth and lies, which is timely,” Hogan said.
She said the subject of truth is prominent in public discussion as well as relevant to our daily lives.
“The one time Elizabeth (played by Gabriela Mendoza) tells a lie in this story, the whole thing falls apart. We all lie, so I think we can all relate to that,” she said.
To avoid having audiences focus on the plays’ time setting, ELAC’s production will take the characters out of the 1600s in favor of a contemporary depiction of the story.
Hogan said the costumes are being designed to be “timeless,” leaving the time period the story takes place in ambiguity.
“We don’t want them to focus on what happened in the past. Instead, we want the story to resonate with them,” Hogan said.
ELAC’s theater department has built a national reputation for the quality of its productions.
Its performance of “Chavez Ravine” was praised and received a plaque of recognition at the 2019 American College Theater Festival 51, region 8.
This performance of Miller’s classic allegory will likely be one local theater fans will not want to miss if the quality of productions ELAC students have put on in the past are anything to go by.
“The best thing about theater is that no two productions are exactly the same. Once a cast puts on a show you never get to see the exact same one again.
“Theater also reflects what’s going on at whatever time period. It’s written in or performed in, but your supposed to find your own view of what the playwright really meant,” Hogan said.