The Crucible keeps the audience on the edge of their seats

Maya Calderon

Maya Calderon

Maya Calderon, Staff Writer

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This October, the cast and crew of “The Crucible” were guilty of putting on a unique, prepared, and meaningful performance.

“I am most looking forward to sharing a story that is well told,” Director and Drama teacher Cory Finch stated, “everything coming together for the audience, and for our cast and crew to have a product that they are most proud of, something they will look back fondly on years from now.”

For seven weeks, this was the goal for most of the cast and crew members, as well. The students rehearsed scenes, built sets, and prepped cues for about three hours everyday after school. Although the cast played a major role in the production, this was the Drama Department’s largest amount of crew members to sign up and participate in putting on a show. More than 80 students made up the lighting, sound, house, publicity, costumes, makeup, construction, and props crews. Some students even took on leadership roles as crew heads such as Stage Manager and Student Director. Together, the cast and crew worked to put on an entertaining performance for their audience. In fact, several new elements and techniques were used to demonstrate a unique take on Arthur Miller’s show.

“I wanted to perform the show in a proscenium style, but I wanted to include a special flare while keeping the overall look rustic to the simpler time period,” Finch said.

Proscenium style involves the audience remaining on one side of the stage, which many of Vista Murrieta’s productions are. However, Finch utilized a new style with raked decking on the stage. This formation of wooden, planked platforms incorporated lighting from underneath, visible from the audience. The style was different from any typical performance at Vista Murrieta, even though the show has already been performed on campus. However, the “poppet” used in the show is a commemoration to Vista’s first production of “The Crucible” since it was used in the past performance.

In addition to the sets, this play was accompanied by costumes from professional shows. The clothes that the students wore were originally given to the Drama Department by University of California Riverside. After a television series entitled “Salem” was cancelled, the college received the costumes and loaned them to Vista at Finch’s request. Although they have to be returned within two weeks after closing, the cast and crew appreciated the costumes, having used them to create an authentic setting.

No matter how unlike you are to a character, you still have to find the humanity in them to relate to because if you can’t, the audience can’t either.”

— Gavin Martin

The production utilized several new elements to bring the show to life, but the students had to face several difficulties throughout the process, as well. On Thursday night of show week, for instance, the fire alarm went off with only ten more minutes left of the performance.

“When the fire alarm went off at first, I wasn’t sure if it was just a glitch or not. When I
realized it [wasn’t], I asked my assistant stage manager to get all of the actors and crew outside
and take roll call to make sure everyone was out and safe,” said Stage Manager Perri Sparano.

The cause of this disruption was most likely due to the mist from the haze machines which triggered the sensitive smoke detectors in the Performing Arts Center (PAC). Despite the unusual circumstance, many students in the show provided guidance and instructional aid to those in the theater. The lights crew was quick to turn on the lights in the house to make a safer evacuation. Various exits were made available by the house crew as they opened all doors and guided the audience, cast, and crew outside. And after the students worked to execute safety procedures, they were met with a cheering crowd, ready to resume the show.

“I loved watching people run back to their seats because they were so excited to finish the show,” explained Sparano. “It showed us how much we are loved and appreciated.”

While those involved in the crew dealt with challenges “behind-the-scenes,” cast members had to confront the expectation of the play’s characters. Since “The Crucible” is a part of the 11th grade curriculum at Vista, many saw this as an opportunity to develop a better understanding of the material. Most cast members were aware of the educational standard of the show. In order to provide this analytical opportunity for other students, the actors focused on connecting with their characters. Finch explained how it would be a difficult task due to the script’s length and colonial dialect. However, the cast dedicated their time and effort to refining their technique.

“Attempting to perform as another person and not finding a connection is almost nearly impossible,” said Gavin Martin, the actor who played John Proctor. “No matter how unlike you are to a character, you still have to find the humanity in them to relate to because if you can’t, the audience can’t either.”

The end product of the show was a testament to the students’ commitment and work ethic. After weeks of preparation, the cast and crew were able to perform mid-October in front of staff, students, and parents. So many people worked towards putting on the show, and it would not have been possible without them.

“I am so incredibly proud of this group and this production,” said Finch. “It is a challenging story to tell but I think it is a worthwhile challenge. We are fortunate to have a supportive school that allows our program to be so successful. Vista Murrieta is truly a great place to be!”

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The Crucible keeps the audience on the edge of their seats