WILSON, N.C. – Step back in time and envision the hysteria that swept 17th century America, catapulting the Salem Witch Trials into the public arena of colonial Massachusetts. Now, weave in the humanity of one Puritan community where religious beliefs, radical suspicion, accusations, worldly temptations, and unabashed threats abound. The result is “The Crucible,” a parable of power, intolerance and hypocrisy, written by legendary playwright Arthur Miller. Barton College opens its 2008-2009 season on November 13 with this powerful classic of American drama under the direction of Adam Twiss, assistant professor of theatre and director of the Barton Theatre program, but this production is as far from an “old chestnut” as a play can be.

The production, which runs through November 16 in Howard Chapel, has evening shows Thursday – Saturday at 8 p.m. and a matinee at 3 p.m. on Sunday. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. respectively. Tickets will be sold at the door: adult admission is $8 and student admission is $5. To reserve tickets in advance, please call Carol Sabella at 252-399-6483.

Miller’s “The Crucible” is an allegorical reflection of another historical period of American unrest in the 1950s when concern over communism was growing and the anti-communist views of Senator Joseph McCarthy were gaining favor. The United States government had blacklisted accused communists and even Miller was called to answer questions before the House of Representatives’ Committee on Un-American Activities. “The Crucible” opened on Broadway in 1953, and Miller won a Tony for his gripping, historical rendering of this volatile period in American history. “The Crucible” has become a standard on high school and university reading lists and, on stage, it is recognized as American drama at its best.

“‘The Crucible’ poses several challenges for a college production; it has an enormous cast (by contemporary, non-musical standards) with 20 roles (10 men, 10 women), and ages that range from teens to 80+,” said Twiss. “As my first opportunity to work on a theatre production at Barton, I felt that this would give me a chance to get to know the students by working with a great cross-section of our student body; it would also allow me to have participation from the extended community.”

“The Crucible” company includes Triangle Area actors Eric Carl and David McClutchey, Raleigh lighting and scenic designer Chris Bernier and, of course, local and student talent including: Cheri Behe, Zack Brown, Paul Calcagno, Beth Coble, Ja’millah Cooper, Jensen Davis, Caitlyn Garner, Poole Gurley, Bridget Hughes, Wesley Pridgen, Krysti Reuter, Sarah St. Martin, Jorge Santos, Rose Stenbuck, James Taurasi, Chris Wallen, and Santos Vanegas. Stage manager for the fall production is Whitley Stanley, accompanied by assistant stage manager Lizzie Stafford and assistant technical director James Duncan.

“As the new director of Theatre at Barton, it’s been a delight working with these students on ‘The Crucible,’ a remarkable play by Arthur Miller, one of America’s finest and most celebrated playwrights,” continued Twiss. “I had the opportunity to meet Arthur Miller back in 1999, just a few years before his death. Eighty-plus years had done little to diminish his physically imposing frame; he was larger than life, opinionated and brilliant. From that moment, I knew that I wanted to work on his plays, and “The Crucible” has always resonated with me as a commentary on the human condition and our tendency toward both heroism and hypocrisy…very often in the same breath!

“I am very grateful to K.D. Kennedy and the Kennedy family for their tremendous efforts on behalf of the theatre program,” Twiss added. “Not only are they dedicated to the building of our new theatre, The Lauren Kennedy and Alan Campbell Theatre, but they have contributed to a guest artist fund that allows us to bring in two outstanding, professional actors from the area, Eric Carl and David McClutchey, along with designer Chris Bernier to work alongside the students. Together with academic studies, acting and stagecraft is historically passed from generation to generation by working alongside veteran leaders; our guest artists provide an unparalleled opportunity and outstanding example for the students. I’m extremely proud of the work these students have done; fifty percent of our company is composed of freshmen and sophomores, seventy-five percent have never been on the Barton stage before…and many have never acted in a play in any capacity. This is what we do with educational theatre, we open doors to profound life-experience and provide safe opportunities to stretch our imaginations and reach for dreams like no other time in our lives.”

For additional information about the Barton theatre program, please contact Adam Twiss at 252-399-6484 or email: ajtwiss@barton.edu.

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Questions? Contact Kathy Daughety, director of public relations, at 252-399-6529 or email: kdaughety@barton.edu.