Cape High thespians to perform 'The Crucible'

Students, faculty collaborate on production
March 28, 2014
Cape High students will perform "The Crucible" starting Friday, April 4. Pictured (l-r) are Cole Reed, Kylee Manganiello and Andrew Meck. SOURCE SUBMITTED

Choosing American classic "The Crucible" for her students was easy, especially since the story is a big part of Cape High's curriculum, the theater director says.

“This is one of the first productions we have done here that has generated such a positive buzz amongst the faculty and students. Because of their familiarity with the play, we have been given a great deal of support from the CHHS family,” said Martha E. Pfeiffer, director of the Cape Henlopen High School Theatre Academy. The academy will present “The Crucible” for a two-weekend run starting Friday, April 4.

Both cast members and the student body are excited, especially since the play is an anchor text for their American Literature classes, Pfeiffer said. Cape English teacher Tonya Karl said, “Teaching 'The Crucible' each year is an amazing cross-curricular experience, as American Literature is a reflection of our history. They are fascinated to learn that through the Salem Witch Trials, our government realized the importance of innocent until proven guilty.’’

The play is an American classic and is a central work in the canon of American drama, Pfeiffer said.

"The Crucible" is a partially fictionalized story of the Salem Witch Trials that took place in New England in 1692 and 1693. Arthur Miller wrote the play as an allegory of McCarthyism, when the U.S. government blacklisted accused communists. Miller himself was questioned by the House of Representatives'  Un-American Activities Committee in 1956 and convicted of contempt of Congress for refusing to identify others present at meetings he had attended. The play was first performed on Broadway in 1953 and won the 1953 Best Play Tony Award.

The subject of "The Crucible" is of particular interest to Pfeiffer, who has a master's degree from Salisbury University in Colonial American History, focusing heavily on the Puritans. She published “In Defense of Cotton Mather” and later presented her work at an international conference for the humanities in Honolulu. Pfeiffer will give a presentation, “The Devil Hath Been Raised: A Documentary History of the Salem Village Witchcraft Outbreak of 1692,” at 7 p.m. before both Saturday evening performances.

Performances will be held Friday to Sunday, April 4 to 6 and 11 to 13. Friday and Saturday performances begin at 8 p.m., and Sunday matinees will begin at 2 p.m. The cost is $10 for adults, and $5 for students and senior citizens.

Pfeiffer said the cast has done a great job.

“In the past three years, I have chosen challenging productions that push my students to go beyond their expectations and deliver honest, impassioned performances. I raise the bar high, and the students never cease to amaze me,” she said.

Cape Theatre Academy students have recently won top honors in both the Delaware High School Shakespeare Festival and the English Speaking Union Shakespeare Competition. In addition, they are the only high school students in the state of Delaware competing in the adjudicated Delaware State Theatre Association festival Saturday, March 29, at the Tatnall School in Wilmington. Pfeiffer said she is working toward national accreditation for Cape's theater program.