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Arthur Miller's "The Crucible," a story about paranoia run amuck in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692, has been performed hundreds of times by hundreds of different theater groups. So what makes the Flock Theatre's upcoming adaptation different from the rest?
It will be performed on the grounds of the historic Joshua Hempsted House - which was standing at the time of the actual witch trials.
As such, it provides the perfect backdrop for the play, according to director Michael Langlois.
"We thought that if we were to do this outdoors, on the (Hempsted) property, that would be the best place to perform it," Langlois says. "The play takes place in 1692, and here we have this house that would have been contemporary to the play. All of that alone provides the perfect setting."
Those who attend a Flock performance will see the historic play utilize its equally historic setting, which is something the company has wanted to do for three years. Unfortunately, Langlois says, the timing was never right.
"At Flock, we really try and incorporate our productions into the environment when we do them. We don't focus a lot on traditional set design per se," says Langlois. "Most of the stuff that we do is Shakespeare. Because of the richness of language and the way that his plays were originally staged, there is generally not a lot of set design. So even at the Hempsted House, we're not really building a set. We're establishing a location via tables and benches and a variety of hand props. Other than that, we're mostly letting the location speak for itself."
Miller's allegorical tale of witchcraft and deceit stars Ed Phillips as John Proctor, the farmer whose relationship with servant Abigail Williams (played by Melissa Buriak) sets everything in motion. It will all come to life on the large yard outside the 1678 Joshua Hempsted House and the 1759 Nathaniel Hempsted House.
"I really do think that it's a phenomenal way to experience this play," Langlois says. "If you've got the chance to see it, you should see it, because I don't think this opportunity comes along very often."
"The Crucible" will have a 10-day run at the Hempsted Houses, followed by four days at the Connecticut College Arboretum, where the theater has a history of performing at the end of the summer for incoming students.
Flock Theatre will perform “The Crucible” at 7 p.m. Aug. 16-19 and Aug. 23-26 on the grounds of the Hempsted Houses in New London and then at 7 p.m. Aug. 30-Sept. 2 at the Connecticut College Arboretum. The dates for the Hempsted Houses performances were incorrect on page 3 of Night & Day in Thursday’s edition.