There’s so much to say about The Crucible that it was hard deciding what to write about for these few articles; obviously, figuring out what I’d end on was even more difficult. And with this article going up on Halloween, I felt like this should be particularly spooky. And nothing is scarier than the real world. So, I figured it might be best for us to take a quick run through the three Broadway (because otherwise, we’d be here forever) productions of The Crucible to highlight why the play has the longevity it does.
The Cold War raged on in postwar America. Could your neighbor be a Russian spy? Could America be next to fall to the spectre of communism? No, but these were the kinds of questions that permeated the American conscience in the 50s. The Crucible wasn’t about the questions themselves, but the destruction they could bring.
A government agency called the House of Un-American Activities, led by Joseph McCarthy, brought people who they suspected of being communists to the stand. There was a large focus on Hollywood; the community of creators was under attack. This crisis was impetus behind the original production of The Crucible.
It would be just nigh of fifty years before Arthur Miller’s bewitching play would find its way back onto a Broadway stage. When the show did open, it was less than a year after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. The War on Terror had begun, and, less abstractly, so had the war in Afghanistan. The USA PATRIOT Act, which is probably the event which most closely echoes the 1950s, greatly added to the government’s ability to track citizens for suspicious activity.
I am dragging my feet. I don’t want to think about this year. The election. All of the name calling. I mean, every election is ridiculous, but in my short time on earth, this was by far the most...intense. But beyond that, the inability to tell which news stories were true and false was reaching a new level. For me, at least. Yes, lying in media has been around since media has existed, and I have neither the time nor energy to dissect everything that led up to this point in society, but The Crucible again felt sickeningly relevant.