The Christmas production from the Theatre studies department this year was Arthur Miller’s ‘The Crucible’.
Set in Salem in the 17th Century, the play recounts the events surrounding the Salem Witch Trials; a time when paranoia, hysteria, and deceit gripped the Puritan towns of New England. Miller wrote it in the early 1950s as a comment on the McCarthy ‘witch-hunts’ held to identify suspected communists in the United States.
As rehearsals got under way the Jimmy Saville scandal broke in the news followed by the naming of many other public figures. As accusation followed accusation, the production seemed even more relevant to our modern society.
The central role of John Proctor was played by Adam Leonard with tremendous conviction. His delivery of the line ‘because it is my name’ towards the end of the play stunned the audience with its passion and emotion.
Ruby Trudgeon gave John’s wife Elizabeth a cool and virtuous quality that contrasted dramatically with the spine chilling malevolence Hannah MahWhinney brought to the role of Abigail Williams. Hannah electrified the audience with her sense of contained malice and manipulation. She was ably backed by her chorus of girls; Sheree Webster, Sarah Moriarty, Megan Hardcastle, Rowan Howard, Charlotte Ford and chorus leaders Emily Driscoll Jess Fox and Georgina Noble.
The amazing four part singing which punctuated the show was based on the Sacred Harp tradition and was arranged and conducted by Tom Greig who also played Rev Parish capturing the character’s cowardice and paranoia superbly.
Less traditional was the inclusion of an a Capella version of Adele’s ‘ Rolling in the Deep’ however the lyrics say a lot about Abigail’s motivation and need for revenge.
The production was directed by the Drama department staff who were ably assisted by Conal Bronowski who also directed all the movement sequences.
Stage management was in the capable hands of Abi Makin whose job it was to co-ordinate all the technical elements with the action and to cue the whole show each night.
Lizzie Gunby designed the atmospheric lighting and Susie Newton was responsible for the sound design which underscored many of the more dramatic and movement based sections of the play.
The amazing set which evoked both period and a sense of looming danger was designed by Production manager Paul Graham and built by a team of willing helpers.
The detailed costumes were designed and co-ordinated by Jess Wood who also had the task of organising the cast each night and even having to sew some actors into their clothes!
The production was at capacity for each of the three nights and was attended not only by staff, parents and students from Notre Dame but also a number of High schools including Bradford Grammar, Leeds Grammar and Prince Henry’s Otley.
In fact, one parent from Bradford grammar contacted the department to say how much they enjoyed the production commenting ‘What a talented bunch of young people and a very powerful story. On the way out, I overheard a few of the boys talking about how it had helped them understand the play and my son and I had a discussion on the way home on the major themes’
Congratulation to everyone who gave up so much time to be part of what was a superb production.
The next production from the Theatre studies department is Loveplay by Moira Buffini, directed by Ruby Trudgeon and Adam Leonard which will be performed on Feb 12th. For more information visit www.notredamecoll.ac.uk/theatre