[SPOILERS]: Part 3 of chat with anonymous friend about the first preview of The Crucible

The next piece of my frank chat with my anonymous colleague / friend. If you are afraid of direct opinions or don’t want your theater experience to potentially be spoiled by TMI, don’t read this.

***

me:  next issue for me is how act four is played

[she]: is this the final confrontation?

me:  yeah, the point at which they … it starts in the jail and they eventually pull Proctor out

[she]: why do you call these ‘issues’? Act 4 did start strangely. what happened with Tituba?

me:  because I am highly ambivalent about this play. what do you mean, what happened with Tituba?

[she]: Act 4 opened with scenes of Tituba and another girl being led out of their prison cell

me:  oh, do you mean, what happened to her really?

[she]:  yeah

me:  in history she survives, in the play we don’t see

[she]:  were they led out to their hangings? I wasn’t sure, but it’s clear – the toll is being taken. Marshall Herrick is kind of actively drinking

me:  Sarah Good was hanged, in history anyway

[she]: so Danforth shows up because it’s the next batch of hangings day

me:  right. he has to sign the warrants

[she]:  you should be ambivalent about this play

me:  we can add that to the list of things to talk about

[she]:  there appeared to have been no separation of church and state?

me:  no, or not in the sense that we think of

[she]: they were holding up church attendance with lawfulness somehow. I’ve just noticed something

me: yes?

[she]:  in all those rehearsal pics

me:  there’s no Tituba?

[she]: there isn’t really a pic of Jack Ellis. Oh I see one now. But no way does it prepare you for his command once he enters. No, there is of Tituba. I really enjoyed her, although I can see people complaining / objecting to the portrayal. She looks a bit “Aunt Jemima.”

[she]: the entire ensemble was excellent, but these were in my top tier: Marama Corlett, Jack Ellis, Natalie Gavin, Sarah Niles, Samantha Colley, Adrian Schiller

[pause]

me: Sorry. Saw a selfie, had to catch my breath

[she]: did you post it?

me:  My question about Act Four is basically the extent of Proctor’s transformation. Yeah, I did, of course, lol. Don’t you know? I only do this in order to attract attention. I am an Armitage media whore. Plus, he is so damn friendly and sexy.

[she]:  ha

me:  I also wanted to show some evidence that he wasn’t being overrun at the stage door by weird fans

[she]: Not sure about the transformation. What kind of transformation was he to have undergone?

me:  This is a key issue for me in understanding the play

[she]:  well, not true. he did kind of.

me:  again, conventional thinking says that Proctor is somehow supposed to have been transformed emotionally as opposed to just physically. the script says he’s a different man physically after he’s been in jail. if you read my post about cruelty, you know what I think about this, but I assume you didn’t so just tell me about Proctor in act 4.

[she]: hmmm. he’s supposed to be malnourished.

me: yeah, early modern jails were rough. You had to either buy your food or have your relatives bring it. So, tell me, did Proctor undergo a transformation other than the physical one?

[she]: I do think that he’s been transformed, but it still has limits. both Proctors are free in ways they weren’t before

me:  okay

[she]:  no one gives a crap about appearances or past wrongdoings, by the end

me:  yes

[she]:  and they both want him to live, but he can’t live with the public denouncing of his fellow townspeople

me:  yes

[she]: which is why the ‘it’s my name’ line is kind of weird

me:  the end of the play is VERY weird and most readers do not get this IMO

[she]:  because he doesn’t really care about his own name at the end as much as about not harming the others

me:  I think the inference Miller wishes you to draw is that John Proctor = the name of a man who will not falsely denounce others

[she]: yes. but it still reads out as a pride in his own name … which isn’t at all the spirit of what is happening. so yeah – easy to be confused. he need have no pride for himself at the end

me:  to some extent you HAVE to read this play from the perspective of a privileged white man for it to make sense

[she]:  but exactly – it seems most people’s breaking point is the false accusation of others

me:  that’s a point about historical context

[she]  which is what the children do

me:  some readers think it’s a statement about Elia Kazan’s decision to name names before HUAC. Kazan did it in order to continue working in film and stay off the “blacklist”. Kazan told Miller he would name names and did. Miller wrote this play. Two years later Miller was called before HUAC and refused

me:  to me, Proctor starts this play off as self-righteous and continues to be so. I think Act II is really the most emotionally wrenching for Proctor (although I know people will disagree)

me:  one last question about Act Four

[she]:  sure. this is all fresh so I want to get it out now

me:  Proctor’s final decision to go to the scaffold — triumphant, resigned, how played?

[she]:  not resigned. really – no other choice

me:  in other words is he playing as if it’s about martyrdom for the truth? played as if he feels compelled?

[she]: they bring Rebecca Nurse out. actually – I’d put Ann Firbank in my top tier of actors group. She didn’t have many lines, but just enough to know that this was a no-nonsense woman who was loved and beloved. So the end scene, it’s really both of them marching out, the Proctors share a loving embrace, and then as they walk out, Rebecca stumbles and apologizes because she hasn’t had breakfast and Proctor helps her as she walks out. So I guess it’s played as triumph

me:  and Elizabeth’s last statement?

[she]: which statement?

me:  Hale tries to get her to run after Proctor and E says “he have his goodness now”

[she]: yes

me:  how played?

[she]:  I dunno… redemptive? she looks up and the light shines down on her

me:  this is a lot better than I thought I was going to get, actually

[she]: what were you expecting?

me:  like I said, it’s a very trite play, it’s a classic of American theater, Miller is an important playwright, this was a historically and politically and socially significant work, blah blah blah

[she]: like I said – I had no interest in it. If it could please me, you knew it was saying something. if it had had a bit of saccharine, I would have lost it during intermission

me:  I was cheered when you said it held your attention.

[she]: I thought that Armitage had his best lines in act 2

me:  okay, good. act 2 is where Proctor’s sort of still negotiating his adultery with Elizabeth. they are partners, they are invested, and yet they have this huge wound between them

[she]: exactly. plenty of accusing

me:  that scene reminds me a bit of how my parents could be sometimes the day after my dad had had a particularly bad drinking spell

me: So what accent did he do?

[she]:  yes. it was actually all very subtle. Nothing heavy handed. Honestly – John Proctor sounds a bit bitchy in his scenes with Elizabethme: he is supposed to be defensive in Act 2[she]: which is not to say he isn’t being truthful

me:  OK! that’s actually perfect.

[she]: that’s the transformation in Act 4. He’s not bitchy in act 4. he realizes what an ass he’s been

me:  okay, that was the question I wanted an answer to earlier

[she]:  and she, I guess, also realizes she’s been guilty of withholding from him

me:  I’m not sure that committing to your own martyrdom isn’t just continuing to be an asshole by other means, but that is not the conventional view

[she]:  I got no martyrdom vibe from this production. it was simply clear at the end to each what their faults had been. Elizabeth is done well, I’d say

me:  interesting. I’m trying to figure out what question to ask about that. that problem was at the source of my question about Elizabeth’s end of play stance

[she]: yeah – your question earlier surprised me. I got none of the martyrdom vibe from the portrayal

me:  I think she ends the play more ambivalently than the conventional view suggests

[she]:  is there a line in the text about how little John Proctor understands the mind of young girls? Those were great lines. she did a great job with the delivery. and as much as I hated her guts for lying to Danforth to protect her husband, she did a fantastic job with it. she did a fantastic job and I was watching her portrayal with her back to me

me:  see, to some extent, b/c of the whole church state problematic, the “staunch Christian” stance is also a moment of social inflexibility. I wondered if the play would explore that. Sounds like not, but that is okay, it doesn’t have to do everything

[we’re stopping here for tonight — that was most of our chat. I’m going to look tomorrow to see if there are any further scraps that would be interesting to the Armitage fandom and readers of this blog.]

~ by Servetus on June 22, 2014.

One Response to “[SPOILERS]: Part 3 of chat with anonymous friend about the first preview of The Crucible”

  1. […] from my chats with Anonymous Correspondent about the first night of previews (one, and two, and three); I mentioned at the time that she does not consider herself a fan of Armitage, and she did not […]

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