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Booker High students stage Arthur Miller classic, ‘The Crucible’

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Crucible cast-BHS Oct 2017

WITCH HUNT: Cast members of the Booker High School production of ‘The Crucible’ rehearse the play. Pictured from left are Jessica Apatow, Storm Tracy and Sarah Johnson.

SARASOTA, Oct. 10, 2017 – The Booker High School VPA Theatre Department will present Arthur Miller’s classic American play, “The Crucible,” as its season opener. The play runs Thursday, Oct. 12, through Saturday, Oct. 14.

The play depicts a group of girls who get caught dabbling in “witchcraft” in the woods, prompting them to accuse innocent Salem residents of being witches to divert attention from themselves. The accusations unleash hysteria that threatens to ruins reputations and lives.

Published in 1953, “The Crucible” is often considered an allegory for the McCarthyism of that time, but director Sunny Smith says that many of its themes and message resonate today. The phrase “witch hunt” has gained renewed popularity.

“In our current political climate, something as simple as a charge of ‘fake news’ destroys trust and makes us examine the information we’re getting,” Smith said. “It’s similar in ‘The Crucible.’ What’s a lie and what’s the truth? We’re living in a similar climate of accusation, which I think students can really relate to.”

Aside from offering acting students a medium for assessing the contemporary political environment, Smith said the characters of the play — though their lives are in many ways different from contemporary teenage lives — give students a chance to work through ideas that are common in high school: self-doubt, deep demons, and hypocrisy. To see adult characters from the 1600s struggle with such issues can be illuminating, said Smith.

“They see that the essential fiber of being a young woman, or the core of being a proud and honorable man, trying to do the right thing, are universal,” Smith said. “Our human nature doesn’t change but our circumstances do.”

The Crucible opens the VPA Theatre Department’s season that embraces the theme, “the thrill of the hunt and the excitement of the chase.” The season will continue with the musical “James and the Giant Peach,” Dec. 7-9; “Much Ado About Nothing,” Feb. 22-24; and “Hello, Dolly,” April 19-22.

“While these are such different shows, they all incorporate the journey of discovery, and in ‘The Crucible,’ you have a group of people exploring their belief system,” said Smith.

“The Crucible” runs Oct. 12-14 at 7 p.m. at the Booker High School VPA Theatre, 3201 N. Orange Ave., Sarasota Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for seniors, and $5 for students, and can be purchased online at www.bookervpa.com/tickets; by phone at (941) 355-2967, ext. 65211; or at the door. 

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