THE CRUCIBLE presented by the NSA DRAMA DEPARTMENT


THE CRUCIBLE presented by the NSA Drama Department
PG13 – Parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

“We are what we always were in Salem, but now the little crazy children are jangling the keys of the kingdom, and common vengeance writes the law!”

Arthur Miller’s Tony Award-winning 1953 play, The Crucible, is a timeless tragedy loosely based on the historical 1692 Salem witch trials. In this dramatization, irrational fear and hysteria are the catalysts for the tragic loss of innocent lives and personal reputations. The children are the puppet masters in the accusatory game of crying witch.

The Crucible is a potent allegory for contemporary issues. It shows how easy it is to fan a climate of bigotry, betrayal and treachery by igniting irrational fear and division. Miller wrote The Crucible to capture the mass hysteria of the early 1950s when American politics was consumed by the metaphoric communist “witch hunts” under Senator Joseph McCarthy. Miller used the Salem witch-hunt to highlight the collective delusion, hysteria and unfounded accusations of subversion and treason of that time.

History is our teacher and repeatedly shows that conspiracies and hysteria are a lethal combination. In 1692 in Salem, Massachusetts, 19 innocent people were hanged for being witches. With the advent of social media in contemporary society, there is a wave of conspiracy theories on an almost epidemic scale, where people instantly believe the fake news, unsubstantiated claims and opinion before the truth is revealed and understood. People are cancelled and ostracised within a simple algorithmic adjustment. Facts and truths are secondary. Fanaticism, hysteria and paranoia are rife. While people still fall prey to these emotions and seek the supernatural to help explain their fear of the unknown, The Crucible will be as relevant as when it premiered sixty-nine years ago.

The Arthur Miller trust granted the National School of the Arts permission to set The Crucible in SALEM in the Eastern Cape. Founded by the 1820 British Settlers – the name, SALEM, means peaceful and complete; a bitter irony for SALEM in Massachusetts
whose name will forever be synonymous with the tragic witch-hunts which took place over 300 years ago.

The Crucible is a central work in the canon of American Drama.

“I am not sure what “The Crucible” is telling people now, but I know its paranoid centre is still pumping out the same darkly attractive warning it did in the fifties. For some, the play seems to be about the dilemma of relying on the testimony of small children accusing adults of sexual abuse, something I’d not have dreamed of forty years ago. For others, it may simply be a fascination with the outbreak of paranoia that suffuses the play—the blind panic that, in our age, often seems to sit at the dim edges of consciousness.

But below its concerns with justice, the play evokes a lethal brew of illicit sexuality, fear of the supernatural, and political manipulation, a combination not unfamiliar these days.”

Arthur Miller – The New Yorker
October 1996

Crucible: A container in which metals are heated, involving a change. A severe test or trial.

The Crucible is presented by the NSA Drama Department and directed by Johan Anker and Laine Butler, whose previous NSA productions include the Afro-Punk Macbeth (2017/2018), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2019) and Hip-Hop Hamlet (2020)

Now, who did you see with the Devil?