Salem, Massachusetts is embroiled in witch-hunting hysteria in 1692 when prominent society members are accused of witchcraft in Arthur Miller's play “The Crucible.”

Many are caught in the web of hysteria during the Salem Witch Trials including John Proctor, a married farmer who had an affair with Abigail, a servant. Proctor's wife Elizabeth is accused of witchcraft by Abigail, who wants to remove her lover's wife from their lives. A trial resulting from false claims leaves a town reeling.

Redondo Union High School Theatre Arts will present “The Crucible” from Thursday, Dec. 5 through Sunday, Dec. 8.

Theater Arts Director Melissa Staab said “The Crucible” was written by Miller in response to McCarthyism that created its own hysteria in the 1950s. Sen. Joseph McCarthy led his own witch hunt when he tried to root out Communism in America, from government employees to those in the entertainment industry. Three years after "The Crucible" debuted on stage in 1953, Miller found himself in front of the House of Representatives' Committee on Un-American Activities. When he refused to identify "Communist sympathizers," he was convicted of contempt of Congress.

“The whole county was turning into he said/she said, people were afraid to go out, they were afraid to talk to certain people,” Staab said. “I feel today we still have that with our current political climate you don't know who’s on what side, you don't know who has what opinions. People are scared to mention anything about politics nowadays. Plus the idea of mass hysteria. One thing comes out in the media and all of a sudden everybody is going crazy about it.”

Jason Young plays John Proctor whose “big thing throughout the whole show is that he's an honest man, he has integrity.” but his affair with Abigail exposes his weaknesses.

“Our slogan for the show is 'When does a lie become a truth?'.... it's about what mass hysteria can do to a community,” Young said.

Cindy Meyer plays Elizabeth, a “selfless.. Christian woman” who's life is “spiraling downhill” because of her husband's betrayal and Abigail's lies.

“As you see the play go on, it can break someone's heart to see her go from a perfect woman, then in the jail with rags and her whole life gone,” Meyer said. “She has kids, too that she needs to worry about. Its' very saddening. Although her husband can be very difficult to handle, she loves him tremendously, which shows how big of a heart she has.”

Young said the challenge of the two and a half hour show is  that it's dialogue heavy, which Young calls a ”medium between Shakespeare and modern language,” and John Proctor is in virtually every scene.

“The challenge is remembering to get all those lines out, how they are written in the text rather than how I would interpret them,” Young said.

At 18 years old, Meyer said a challenge was “putting in the maturity into the role to make it believable.”

“I have to walk a different way, I have to speak a different way, the way I turn my head even I have to look at such small things to get the character right,” Meyer said.

Performances of “The Crucible” take place December 5, 6 and 7 at 7 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 8, at 2 p.m., at the Redondo Union Auditorium, located at 1 Seahawk Way.

For ticket information, visit ruhsdrama.com.

Contact this reporter at mhixon@tbrnews.com or on Twitter @michaeljhixon.com.

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