Alley Theater gets to crux of political climate with 'The Crucible'

Nov. 5—ANDERSON — Arthur Miller wrote "The Crucible" in 1953. But the play's messages about "group-think" and "mass mentality" ring clear today, according to the director of a local performance.

The Alley Theatre Company will perform Miller's masterpiece this month, with shows set for 7:30 p.m. Nov. 10-12 and 3:30 p.m. Nov. 13.

Originally set during the Salem Witch Trials of the 1690s, the play follows John Procter, an older gentleman accused of witchcraft by his much younger mistress. The young woman, Abigail Williams, accuses several others, which sparks a series of trials and subsequent executions.

Director Zarah Shejule said Miller was inspired to write the play when friends of his were accused of being communists. "The Crucible" is not an allegory just about that era, but our own, she said.

"We've seen it in the U.S. the past couple years. The group-think, the mass mentality, looking to separate ourselves from one another. It's a very scary thing, and that's why 'Crucible' still applies today," Shejule said.

Instead of the usual pilgrim-like setting, the Alley Theater Company has make the play timeless with a dystopian setting.

Nineteen actors comprise the cast, including Brian Shetterly, who portrays George Herrick, a real-life marshal of courts during the witch trials. Shetterly said he tries to portray Herrick as sympathetic.

The cast has been putting the play together for three weeks. The Alley Theater, Shetterly said, is notorious for its quick-moving seasons. There's not a lot of time between auditions and performance. Auditions for "The Crucible" began around Oct. 15-16, with rehearsals starting a few days later.

Shejule described the play as uplifting, saying audiences will leave giggling but will be thinking about how they treat others. We're all humans trying to understand the times in which we live and we should treat others with more grace, love and understanding, she said.

The impact of the Salem Witch Trials has carried on, and the trials were in the news again this year. In August, the last alleged witch was exonerated when an eighth-grade teacher and her students petitioned the Massachusetts legislature.

The woman, Elizabeth Johnson, was initially accused and scheduled for execution, along with more than 200 other women and men in Salem, in 1692. But Johnson was spared. However, until this year, her name had never been cleared of the charge.

To purchase tickets, visit or call 765-643-0701.

Follow Caleb Amick on Twitter @AmickCaleb. Contact him at or 765-648-4254.