Desert Vista High School thespians will present a powerful drama with a contemporary message this week.
The Thunder Theatre Company is presenting Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible” at the Black Box Theater at 7 p.m. tomorrow, Thursday, and 3:45 and 7 p.m. Friday. Tickets are $5 and available at the door.
The story focuses upon a young farmer, his wife, and a young servant girl who maliciously causes the wife’s arrest for witchcraft. The farmer brings the girl to court to admit the lie – and it is here that the monstrous course of bigotry and deceit unfolds.
Winner of the 1953 Tony Award for Best Play, Miller used the Salem witch trials as a parable for the Communist witch hunts of the 1950s.
The play is a debut of sorts for the director, Jesse Ploog-Bacik, who is a first-year teacher with a freshly minted master’s degree from ASU.
She said she picked the play for a few reasons.
“I have loved this play since I read it in high school, so it’s a script that I personally am passionate about,” she explained. “Second, it is actually in the English curriculum for juniors, so I thought it would be a cool opportunity for students to perform in or see something they have read in class brought to life on stage.”
Ploog-Bacik also said that the play “has a lot of historical significance and reflects some issues that I think are just generally part of the human condition.
“I think that it’s my job for me to challenge my students with intense and significant pieces of theatre like this because it’s important to keep these stories alive. I think that this is a story that will always be relevant to audiences,” she added.
As the students have gone through rehearsals, Ploog-Bacik said, “the kids have definitely become more excited about it” as they discussed both the witch trials and the rampant rise of McCarthyism in the 1950s.
“I think the most challenging aspect of the play has been how intense and emotional some of these scenes are,” she said. “This play deals with some intense topics, so they have worked very hard to dig deep and show these emotions well.”
The play also has been a learning experience in more than just history.
“As each of the five scenes in this play take place at very different locations, I designed the set to be very simple,” she said. “This is to allow the actors to get what they need from each location and to let the audience’s imaginations fill in the details. There were some important themes from the story that made set design choices very simple, actually,” Ploog-Bacik explained, adding:
“Since we kept the design for this show very simple, the kids were able to focus on learning some basic theatrical building techniques this time around, which will only help them be more confident as we move into a more technically intense spring musical.”
As for her first outing as a high school director, Ploog-Basic lays all the credit on her talented students.
“I think that audiences will most enjoy the skill that they see on stage,” she said. “I am so proud of the work that this cast has put in to this show – they have already brought me to tears during multiple rehearsals, and it’s only going to get better each time we run the show before opening. I think that this production was a very exciting challenge for a lot of these actors, and they have all grown a lot.
“This isn’t an easy show for teens to tackle, but I think that they have done an impressive job with it. I think audiences will be just as impressed as I have been.”
The cast includes: Martiza Kozicki, Stephanie Osswald, Jack Walton, Justin Vaught, Acadia Fitzpatrick, Andrew Brungard, Jeremy Elwell, Tyler Welch, Jessica Lester, Andrew Dull, Alex Magewick, Elijah Rivera, Meghan Perales, Mantra Rostami, Kyleigh Perales, Greg Panaccione, Jackson Tyler, Delani Piasecki, Lauren Mooney, Chloe Spackman, Alex Magewick, Madison Krueger, Marleigh Hickey, Madelyn Lohkamp and Natalie Sanchez.
The stage manager is Danielle Hale and the assistant stage managers are Ashlyn Healey and Emily Dickinson. Other members of the crew are Natalie Hale, Curtis Peterson, Kristen Kibby, Ava Schwartz, Adelyn Larsen, Serena Khan, Keira Monaghan, Tanner Berschel, Shawn Evans II, Rory Lang, Kaylin McDonald, Nicole Rossi, Keirsten Mason, Kailyn Riggs, Meghan Stoff and Valentina LaCasa.