The Crucible, set in Salem, Massachusetts, is Arthur Miller’s powerful and haunting drama that compares the McCarthy hearings of the 1950s to the Salem witch trials that took place in the Massachusetts Bay Colony during 1692–93. Petty bickering, a bit of dancing, affairs, all lead to accusations of witchcraft amongst the townspeople. Family stresses and small-town intrigue lead to false confessions, despair and the ultimate consequences.
Did you know?
Miller was questioned by the House of Representatives’ Committee on Un-American Activities in 1956 and convicted of contempt of Congress for refusing to identify others present at meetings he had attended.
Miller originally called the play THOSE FAMILIAR SPIRITS before renaming it as THE CRUCIBLE.
Broadway Production History
The Crucible first opened on Broadway on January 22, 1953, and ran for 197 performances, closing on July 11, 1953 at the Martin Beck Theatre. Lullaby composed by Anne Ronnell; Hymn composed by Alex Miller
Starring E.G Marshall (Reverend John Hale), Arthur Kennedy (John Proctor) and Beatrice Straight (Elizabeth Proctor).
Produced by Kermit Bloomgarden, staged by Jed Harris with Scenic Design by Boris Aronson and Costume Design by Edith Lutyens; Company Manager: S.M. Handelsman; Business Manager: Jack Schlissel; General Manager: Louis A. Lotito; Production Stage Manager: Del Hughes; Stage Manager: Leonard Patrick; Assistant Stage Manager: Donald Marye; Assistant to Jed Harris: Shirley Berick; Casting Consultant: Jane Broder; Press Representative: James Proctor and Merle Debuskey.
Cloris Leachman was originally slated to play the role of Abigail Williams in this production. Prior to coming to Broadway, this production played four performances January 15 – 17, 1953 at the Playhouse Theatre in Wilmington, DE. Leachman left the production the day before opening in Wilmington, at which point Madeleine Sherwood, originally slated to play Mercy Lewis, assumed the role. In June 1953, this production underwent several changes. The woods scene between John Proctor and Abigail Williams was added to Act II, and most of the set was eliminated with the action instead playing in front of black drapes. Playwright Arthur Miller re-directed some scenes.
Subsequent revivals of The Crucible have appeared on Broadway as follows:
Apr 6, 1964 – May 2, 1964
4 previews, 16 perfs.
Directed by Jack Sydow. Starring Denholm Elliott (Reverend John Hale), Farley Granger (John Proctor) and Anne Meacham (Elizabeth Proctor)
Produced by Michael Dewell, Frances Ann Dougherty and The American National Theatre and Academy; Musical Director: Dean Fuller; Scenic Design by Peter Larkin; Costume Design by Alvin Colt; Lighting Design by Tharon Musser; Production Supervisor: Robert Calhoun
The production won the 1953 Tony Award for Best Play.
Apr 27, 1972 – Jun 3, 1972
Vivian Beaumont Theatre
13 previews, 44 perfs.
Directed by John Berry. Starring Pamela Payton-Wright (Abigail Williams), Robert Foxworth (John Proctor), Philip Bosco (Reverend John Hale) and Martha Henry (Elizabeth Proctor)
Produced by Repertory Theatre of Lincoln Center (under the direction of Jules Irving and Robert Symonds); Scenic Design by Jo Mielziner; Costume Design by Carrie Fishbein Robbins; Lighting Design by Jo Mielziner; Production Stage Manager: Patrick Horrigan; Stage Manager: Barbara-Mae Phillips
Dec 10, 1991 – Jan 5, 1992
23 previews, 31 perfs.
Directed by Yossi Yzraely. Musical Director: John Kander. Starring Michael York (Reverend John Hale,) Martin Sheen (John Proctor), Maryann Plunkett (Elizabeth Proctor) and Fritz Weaver (Deputy-Governor Danforth)
Produced by National Actors Theatre (Tony Randall, Founder and Artistic Director); Executive Producer: Manny Kladitis; Scenic Design by David Jenkins; Costume Design by Patricia Zipprodt; Lighting Design by Richard Nelson; Sound Design by T. Richard Fitzgerald; Hair Design by Robert Fama; General Manager: Niko Associates, Inc. (Manny Kladitis, Founder and President); Company Manager: Erich Hamner; Production Supervisor: Thomas A. Kelly; Production Stage Manager: Glen Gardali; Stage Manager: Donna A. Drake; Technical Director: Gene O’Donovan; Incidental Music Supervisor: David Loud; Casting: Georgianne Walken and Sheila Jaffe; General Press Representative: Springer Associates, Inc.; Fight direction by B. H. Barry
Film & TV Production History
There have been 3 major productions in film, in 1957 – The Crucible (also titled Hexenjagd or Les Sorcières de Salem), a joint Franco-East German film production by Belgian director Raymond Rouleau with a screenplay adapted by Jean-Paul Sartre, in 1996 – The Crucible with a screenplay by Arthur Miller himself. The cast included Paul Scofield, Daniel Day-Lewis, and Winona Ryder. This adaptation earned Miller an Academy Award nomination for Best Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published, his only nomination, and in 2014 – The Old Vic’s production of The Crucible which starred Richard Armitage and directed by Yaël Farber was filmed and distributed to cinemas across the UK, Ireland, and the United States.
The play has been presented several times on television. A 1968 production starred George C. Scott as John Proctor, Colleen Dewhurst (Scott’s wife at the time) as Elizabeth Proctor, Melvyn Douglas as Thomas Danforth, and Tuesday Weld as Abigail Williams. A production by the Royal Shakespeare Company at the Gielgud Theatre in London’s West End in 2006 was recorded for the Victoria and Albert Museum’s National Video Archive of Performance.