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Crucible Costume Rentals

An allegorical drama set in 1690 in Salem, Massachusetts
Arthur Miller

1953

the trials of people accused of committing witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts

Tracy Notes About This Show

We visited Salem, MA. before we designed this production, particularly the Rebecca Nurse homestead and grounds, which have been isolated and preserved in near original condition, and the Salem witch house, now a favored tourist spot - then the home of the magistrate. Although the house and other locations in the play are now in the town of Danvers, it was all called Salem in the 1600's. Going to church meant a 5 mile ride in an open horse and buggy over dirt paths to sit for 5 or more hours in an unheated church as a weekly event. Even in this day, the Google map reflects that the 5 mile journey will take 25 minutes by car! The people in this story were puritans, not pilgrims; the action is 80 years after the pilgrims landed at Plymouth, and the puritan clothing reflected an evolution in fashion - not all black, and having variations of style, often reflecting differences in economic and social status, which our costumes reflect. Women, please wear the apron waistbands under the bodice front, especially when the bodice comes to a point - it is the correct way.

Design Elements

a flexible set should be representational of several interior & exterior areas. An accurate representation of even the smallest details of everyday life in 1692 will heighten the drama of the story.

Challenges

duplicate garments for those imprisoned - one set clean, the duplicate sets soiled as if worn all the time of imprisonment. We do provide these sets - clean & dirty in identical styles.

Plot Synopsis

The dramatic and tension-filled story of the terrible consequences of action based on fear and ignorance in the 1690's is presented as an allegorical parallel to the McCarthy trials in the 1950's. Themes of bigotry, mistruths blooming into untruths, and imprisonment until death by hanging the consequence emerge as we view a slice of life among members of this puritan community. Young girls caught in a lie find themselves in a situation where innocent adults are tried and sentenced to hang until death. This is a story for all times. The Witchcraft Delusion includes excerpts from the Peabody Institute Library of Danvers In early 1692, Rev. Parris' 9-year-old daughter Elizabeth, 12 year-old niece Abigail Williams, and other neighborhood girls began to fall into horrid fits. Their parents tried to discover what was causing their distress, and the village doctor William Griggs gave his opinion that the girls were the victims of witchcraft. Put upon to tell who was causing their afflictions, the girls finally accused three village women, and warrants were sworn out for the arrest of Sarah Osburn, Sarah Good, and Parris' slave, Tituba. On March 1,1692, magistrates John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin conducted an examination at the Meeting House. Sarah Good and Sarah Osburn were separately examined and as they answered the questions put to them, the afflicted girls went into horrific fits.To all present, the girls were obviously victims of these womens' witchcraft. though the two protested their innocence. Tituba unraveled a confession of meeting with the devil and stated there were still other witches in the neighborhood. This evidence was sufficient for the magistrates, and the three women were jailed. The girls afflictions did not abate, however, and still more villagers were afflicted. Soon more accusations were made, and by the end of March church members Martha Cory and Rebbecca Nurse were also arrested, examined and jailed. No longer were just the lowly being accused... of the 19 people who were executed during this tragic period, 12 came from the Salem village area, dying rather than confessing to what they had not done. The 1692 Salem Village witchcraft hysteria was a chilling era of our history, yet its lessons have meaning for us today, suggesting that each generation must confront its share of intolerance and witch hunts with integrity, clear vision and bravery.

Thanks and Credit

Production photos courtesy of: Middlesex Community College, Bedford, MA; and  Lincoln High School, San Jose, CA