Theatre department offers rotating productions of ‘Crucible,’ ‘Abigail/1702’

Doug Osborne-Coy
Cast members including Micaela LaBarbera as Elizabeth Proctor, Matthew Neary as John Proctor, Harlequinn Selegean as Abigail Williams and Ryan Okun as John Brown.

Cast members include (from left) Micaela LaBarbera as Elizabeth Proctor, Matthew Neary as John Proctor, Harlequinn Selegean as Abigail Williams and Ryan Okun as John Brown.

The Department of Theatre and Dance at SUNY Fredonia has undertaken an ambitious project to close out its 2023-24 Walter Gloor Mainstage Series.

The department will present rotating productions of “The Crucible” and “Abigail/1702: A Twice-told Tale” from April 26 through May 4 in the Robert W. Marvel Theatre on the Fredonia campus.

Dates and times for “The Crucible” are April 26, 27 and May 2 at 7:30 p.m., and May 4 at 2 p.m. while “Abigail/1702” runs April 27 and 28 at 2 p.m., and May 3 and 4 at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are available online 24/7. They may also be purchased on Monday, Wednesday or Friday by phone at (716) 673-3501 or in person at the Fredonia Ticket Office in the Williams Center.

“The Crucible,” by Pulitzer Prize winner Arthur Miller, is a drama that tells the story of a young farmer, his wife and a young servant-girl who maliciously causes the wife’s arrest for witchcraft in 17th century Salem, MA.

“The play is historical fiction and delves into the events surrounding the Salem Witch Trials,” said Director Daniel F. Lendzian. “While authored by Arthur Miller as an allegory for 1950s McCarthyism and The Red Scare, its themes and topics remain relevant today. In our production, we emphasize the enduring themes of goodness, the power of language and accusation and the concept of justice.”

“Abigail/1702,” by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, picks up where “The Crucible” left off.

“We witness the transformation and evolution of Abigail Williams, the catalyst of hysteria in ‘The Crucible,’” Lendzian said. “Set 10 years after the events of ‘The Crucible,’ ‘Abigail/1702’ follows Abigail’s journey of redemption as she aids a young sailor named John Brown and raises an orphan boy named Thomas. Confronted by her past, Abigail must demonstrate her worthiness of forgiveness and salvation despite her past misdeeds.”

The director said the Mainstage production highlights themes of atonement, forgiveness, spiritual purity and redemption.

“To my knowledge, this is the first time ‘The Crucible’ and ‘Abigail/1702’ have been performed in a rotating repertory,” Lendzian said. “There are ‘Easter eggs’ that appear in both plays that keep them connected, so it is strongly recommended audiences see both.”

“These plays will cause the audience to think and ask about many ideas and themes,” Lendzian said. “What is good/holy? What is forgiveness? What is atonement, and is it possible - especially in the aftermath of fear, evil, and wrongdoing?”

The director recommends audiences see both plays to experience “the full, immersive experience that will drive these thoughts and ideas far.”

The productions involve 34 student performers, two stage managers, two student assistant directors, three assistant stage managers and a full student design team.

“The highlights include the beautiful work of the student designers to bring the world of both plays into Marvel Theatre; the brilliant hard work of the actors (some even being in both shows); and the work of the entire production team,” Lendzian said. “We were also able to collaborate with a member of the Dance faculty, [Professor] Sam Kenney, to devise an incredible movement sequence.”  

Lendzian said the concept of presenting the two plays on a rotating basis was a way to “flesh out the life and world of Abigail Williams and give her the possibility to atone and ask for forgiveness to all those affected and killed in the trials.”

“For actors appearing in both ‘The Crucible’ and ‘Abigail/1702,’ portraying characters’ development over 10 years post-trial is a significant challenge,” the director said. “Balancing the darkness of ‘The Crucible’ with the themes of hope and forgiveness in ‘Abigail/1702’ has been a focal point in both rehearsal and design. Our aim is for audiences to clearly perceive the evolution of characters and the shift in environment between the two shows, and question their relationship to this story, and to judgment and accusation.”

“The Crucible” and “Abigail/1702: A Twice-told Tale” is sponsored by the SUNY Fredonia Federal Credit Union and are presented as part of the 2023-24 Lake Shore Savings Season at the Michael C. Rockefeller Arts Center, supported through the Fredonia College Foundation. 

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