Auditions for The Crucible
By Arthur Miller
Directed by Jim Nuttall
Monday, March 11 & Tuesday, March 12
Nicolet Theatre, Rhinelander
Arthur Miller’s powerful play The Crucible, written in response to the McCarthy hearings of the 1950s, is a partially fictionalized dramatization of the 1692 Salem witch trials. In the play, several young girls and a servant were caught in the woods, conjuring — or attempting to conjure — spirits from the dead. Rumors of witchcraft quickly spread through the town. Rather than suffer severe punishment for their actions, the girls accuse other inhabitants of Salem of practicing witchcraft. This desperate, dangerous, and childish finger-pointing results in mass paranoia and an atmosphere of fear in which everyone is a potential witch. With neighbor pitted against neighbor, a self-perpetuating cycle of distrust, accusation, arrest, and conviction emerges. Winner of the 1953 Tony Award for Best Play, The Crucible reminds us how intolerance and hysteria can intersect and tear a community apart.
There are 20 roles in all (10 male & 10 female). Most of the men are over 30, a couple can be cast younger. 5 of the female parts are for the teen girls age 13-18, the remainder are 30-70 years old.
John PROCTOR, Age: 40-50
The play focuses on Proctor: A local farmer who lives just outside town; Elizabeth Proctor’s husband. Something of a humanist in a religious society, John hates hypocrisy. Nevertheless, he has a hidden sin—his affair with Abigail Williams—that proves his downfall. When the hysteria begins, he hesitates to expose Abigail as a fraud because he worries that his secret will be revealed and his good name ruined.
Reverend PARRIS, Age: 40-60
The minister of Salem’s church. Reverend Parris is a paranoid, power-hungry, yet oddly self-pitying figure. Many of the townsfolk, especially John Proctor, dislike him, and Parris is very concerned with building his position in the community.
Reverend John HALE, Age: 30-40
A young minister reputed to be an expert on witchcraft. Reverend Hale is called in to Salem to examine Parris’s daughter Betty. Hale is a committed Christian and hater of witchcraft. His critical mind and intelligence save him from falling into blind fervor. His arrival sets the hysteria in motion, although he later regrets his actions and attempts to save the lives of those accused.
Thomas PUTNAM, Age: 50-60
A well-to-do, hard-handed landowner near fifty. He uses the witch trials to increase his own wealth by accusing people of witchcraft and then buying up their land.
Francis NURSE, Age: 60+
A wealthy, influential man in Salem. Nurse is well respected by most people in Salem, but is an enemy of Thomas Putnam and his wife.
Giles COREY, Age: 60+
An elderly but feisty farmer in Salem, famous for his tendency to file lawsuits. Giles’s wife, Martha, is accused of witchcraft, and he himself is eventually held in contempt of court and pressed to death with large stones.
Judge HATHORNE, Age: 50-70
A judge who presides, along with Danforth, over the witch trials. More concerned with procedure than justice.
Judge DANFORTH, Age: 50-60
The deputy governor of Massachusetts and the presiding judge at the witch trials. Honest and scrupulous, at least in his own mind, Danforth is convinced that he is doing right in rooting out witchcraft. He doesn’t appear until the second act, but then dominates the action and becomes Proctor’s nemesis.
HERRICK, Age: 25-40
The part-time marshal of Salem. A man of conscience stuck with an ugly job.
Ezekiel CHEEVER, Age: 20-40
A tailor from Salem who acts as clerk of the court during the witch trials. He is upright and determined to do his duty for justice, perhaps with a little too much enthusiasm.
The Teen Girls:
ABIGAIL Williams, Age: 17
Reverend Parris’s niece. Abigail was once the servant for the Proctor household, but Elizabeth Proctor fired her after she discovered that Abigail was having an affair with her husband, John Proctor. Abigail is smart, wily, a good liar, and vindictive when crossed.
MARY Warren, Age: 17
A subservient, naïve girl. The servant in the Proctor household and a member of Abigail’s group of girls. She is a timid girl, easily influenced by those around her, who tried unsuccessfully to expose the hoax and ultimately recanted her confession.
MERCY Lewis, Age: 18
One of the girls in Abigail’s group. A plotter and conniver.
BETTY Parris, Age: 10
Reverend Parris’s ten-year-old daughter. Betty falls into a strange stupor after Parris catches her and the other girls dancing in the forest with Tituba. Her illness and that of Ruth Putnam fuel the first rumors of witchcraft. We will probably cast a smaller actress over 13 that could pass for a 10 year old.
SUSANNA Walcott, Age: 15
One of the girls in Abigail’s group. Follows Abigail’s lead in all things.
ELIZABETH Proctor, Age: 30-50
John Proctor’s wife. Elizabeth fired Abigail when she discovered that her husband was having an affair with Abigail. Elizabeth is supremely virtuous, but often cold.
TITUBA, Age: 20-30
Reverend Parris’s servant from Barbados. Tituba agrees to perform voodoo at Abigail’s request. Tituba is supposed to be black, if we don’t have any black actresses audition, we will have to rescript her as a white indentured servant.
ANN Putnam, Age: 40-50
Thomas Putnam’s wife. A superstitious and paranoid woman, whose obsessions start off the hysteria. She has given birth to eight children, but one daughter has survived. The other seven died before they were a day old, and Ann is convinced that they were murdered by supernatural means.
REBECCA Nurse, Age: 60+
Francis Nurse’s wife. Rebecca is a wise, sensible, and upright woman, held in tremendous regard by most of the Salem community. However, she falls victim to the hysteria when the Putnam’s accuse her of witchcraft and she refuses to confess.
Auditions will consist of readings from short sections of the script, repeated several times until all auditioning have had several chances to read. As always, everyone is welcome; you do not need to be a student at Nicolet or have any previous experience in acting to be in the cast. No preparation is required, although actors are best prepared if they have read the script beforehand. You only need to audition on one of the two nights (though many actors choose to attend both).
You will need to bring your calendars so you can list any conflicts you may have for rehearsals.
Rehearsals will run from 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm, 4-5 night a week. The play breaks down very well into different groups, so just about everyone will get nights of as we rehearse other scenes with other characters. We can work around schedule conflicts if there aren’t too many, you just have to list them when you come to auditions – after that, you are committed to being at rehearsal if you are scheduled. The last couple weeks of rehearsals will need everyone present.
Performances are May 3-5 & 9-12. Performances start at 7:30 except for the Sunday matinees which start at 2:00
We will NOT have scripts to check out at the Nicolet library. Most public & school libraries have copies of the play. Arthur Miller kept making changes to the script for 40 years after it was first produced, and you can find full scripts on the internet, but they will vary. There is a severely chopped version out there that you should avoid; the first line in a correct version should be spoken by Tituba.
There is a movie version starring Daniel Day Lewis & Winona Ryder. It has moved a bunch of scenes around, depicts scenes on location that are not in the play, adds some strange motivations (Abigail is pretty crazy) and to be honest is pretty boring. Read the script – the play is much more powerful.
Questions? Contact Jim Nuttall at 715-365-4476 or email your questions to email@example.com