Heat up your cauldon, grab your broomstick and throw on your best witch hat, because this spooky season, Edgemont High School is putting on a production of The Crucible – and we want you there! In a show based on the real-life events of the Salem witch trials, life is turned upside down for the townsfolk when all the girls in their village suddenly fall ill. Is it cold season, the plague, or something more?
The story takes place in 1692 Massachusetts, a setting in which accusations surface that some women secretly practice witchcraft. In that time, women in the area had been pushing the boundaries set for them by society, shaking the strict Puritan atmosphere of Salem. Those who were untethered to a man were especially targeted, having no means of defending themselves. The horrible events of the Salem Witchcraft Crisis remain a dark point in America’s history.
To a Westchester high school in 2021, The Crucible may seem an outlandish fall drama production choice. But in our interview with the play’s director, Dr. Shapiro (better known as Dr. Mitch among the student body), he told us why this show is not just an appropriate selection, but a fitting and essential message for the young generation.
“It will certainly be interesting to see what kind of relevance has evolved in that eleven-year period.” - Dr. Shapiro
This year's production of The Crucible isn’t Dr. Shapiro’s first experience with the play – he directed a prior performance here at Edgemont, all the way back in 2010. In the eleven-year gap between the 2010 and 2021 showings, eight kindergarteners and three first-graders grew into the juniors and seniors of the current cast, and the show’s themes have only become more relevant. It tackles topics of gossip and rumors and the serious, negative implications they can have. Dr. Shapiro thinks that “it will certainly be interesting to see what kind of relevance has evolved in that eleven-year period.”
With social media just getting off the ground in 2010, he notes, “People experiencing mental health issues because of what was going on online was just starting to become a problem,” adding that “Now we’re in a different place with a new generation of kids who can react to this in a new but still true kind of way.” Bullying is more prevalent than ever with modern access to online platforms, and people commonly get sucked into a single way of thinking, one that could be based on a lie or a series of lies. "On social media, we see how people don't want to be left out of a point of view and how they latch on to an idea, because they’re afraid that if they don't, they might be labeled as ‘other’ in a negative way, or ostracized for having the ‘wrong’ belief."
“The story is incredibly powerful and still resonates today with its accusations, social hysteria and numerous lies.”
As a school psychologist, Dr. Shapiro says that these ideas are ones particularly familiar to high schoolers. “This happens every single day. It’s very relevant." People look to blame and find fault in others for things in which they are uninvolved, and unfortunately, it seems that people always will. Zoe Schuldenfrei, a junior in the show, says, “The story is incredibly powerful and still resonates today with its accusations, social hysteria and numerous lies.” Dr. Shapiro agrees, describing these themes of The Crucible as "timeless" aspects of human life that "will never go away."
“From day one, everyone was totally on top of it, and by the third day, they were already committing lines to memory.”
The cast of 26 (plus stage crew) is dedicated to bringing such a weighty story to life. “From day one, everyone was totally on top of it, and by the third day, they were already committing lines to memory,” he says. “I think any play is only as strong as the person who commits the least, so when we have everybody committing the way they are, it sort of catches like wildfire.” Senior Troy Juhn is excited too about this great cast and crew, saying, “The fall drama has been something special to me for the past three years,” and he is looking forward to performing in his last Edgemont drama.
Despite the dark nature of its content, the play also teaches about the value of honor and integrity, professing a morality that it’s more worthwhile to tell the truth and suffer consequences, rather than to lie and harm others. Dr. Shapiro is “always hoping that people see art and are moved to change their behavior, or at least reexamine how they approach relationships with others.” The Crucible is sure to give you new perspective on its subject matter, and we promise, this is a production you don’t want to miss. The show runs from October 29th and 30th. We and the fantastic cast and crew hope to see you there!