Carole, Mikita, "The Crucible at Pioneer Theatre has connection to Utah native" (2015)
Playwright Arthur Miller based his classic play, The Crucible, on the 1692 early Mas- sachusetts Bay Colony witch-hunt. The play is currently running at the Pioneer Theatre Company at the University of Utah, and one Utah native has strong ties to the infamous event.
During the witch-hunt 20 men and women were executed, 19 of them were hanged and one was crushed to death.
Former artistic director Charles Morey returned to direct it, and the last time Morey directed it was 20 years ago when he said, he "fell in love" with Miller's play.
"It comes out of our own history, out of our own culture. It has a lot to say about who we
are, both for good, and not to mince words - for evil." Morey said. "lt's one of the great dramatic mountains that one can climb."
Miller wrote it during the House Un-American Activities Committee hearings in 1953. during a period in which, many say, a witch-hunt against communists was taking place.
But Morey sees the journeys of these characters based on real people as the more fascinating aspect.
"What it says about the American character and where we came from," e said. "We grew out of the Puritan ethic for better or for worse."
Even though many individuals are familiar with this chapter in American history, some-
times people don't seriously consider the descendants of those either accused or executed for witchcraft.
One of them is a man very familiar to KSL-TV: Dick Nourse. He changed his name fom Nurse to Nourse when he came to work at KSL-TV.
Rebecca Nurse was his ninth great-grandmother. Nourse traces his family through her
oldest son, John. "We had an old picture of her house," Nourse said. "And I used to ask my mom to tell me more about it. But my dad never talked about it." Still, he said, he always saw in his father and his father's family characteristics from Francis and Rebecca Nurse, a quiet dignity, a willingness to help others without being asked or taking credit for it.
He understands through research that when it came to the Nurse family, owners of a beautiful farm in Salem Village, there was jealousy in the community and resentment.
"I'm sure there was greed and a certain amount of hatred over that," he said. "So, when the panic spread, the first thing you do is blame somebody you don't like. And you can see all of that develop, the more you read about it." […]
The jury acquitted Rebecca Nurse, but the judge demanded the group find her guilty. She could have saved herself from hanging if she had admitted to witchcraft, but she refused. […]
"The notion of religious fanaticism and violence resulting from religious fanaticism is, of course, very much in the news today," Morey said. "But (the Salem Witch Trials) are a
distinctly American blip, which is why we keep going back to them again and again, in terms of our intellectual history, in terms of our cultural history, in terms of our artistic history. […] The Crucible as a civics lesson, and as a dramatic experience, is so richt that every generation should really be exposed to it," said Morey.
This sense of false accusation, the idea of standing for truth - no matter what - remains
with those who have seen the play. Those who were accused and executed were eventually exonerated.
"We should take another look at the reasons why these sorts of things happen on this earth," Nourse said. "And I guess a lesson from history is learning not to ever do anything like that again."
10 not to mince words - to say something in a direct way even though it might offend other people
22 KSL-TV - television station located in Sal Lake City
40blip - here: constant reminder of an unusual event
46 exonerated - freed from guilt or blame
Aus: Carole Mikita, "The Crucible at Pioneer Theatre has connection to Utah native."
In: KSL News, Feb 21, 2015. © 2015 KSL