Saturday, September 1, 2007

'Crucible' is one of the nice book

The 13th featured selection in "One Book, One Chicago," is "The Crucible," the Tony Award-winning play about the 17th Century Salem witch hunts and trials that Arthur Miller wrote to hold a mirror up to the anti-communist hysteria of the 1950's.

Fifty-four years later, the themes of mass hysteria, irrational fear and political persecution still ring true, Mayor Daley said.

"After 9/11, a lot of people have looked at the Muslim community, the Arab community in a completely different way and that's really unfortunate. Also, many people are looking at the immigrant community in a completely different way, which is really unfortunate. We can learn from our lessons in history-and maybe we haven't," Daley told a news conference Thursday at the Harold Washington Library.

Apparently referring to modern-day political witch hunts, Daley said, "In the electronic age, anyone can say anything. It's remarkable. You listen to radio and TV and read [Internet blogs] and they'll say anything without any justification. It's amazing. It's a completely different electronic age today. Home videos, everything. People say and do things. It's amazing what can take place. That's why we have to be very careful and review what's happening in America."

Library Commissioner Mary Dempsey called Miller's play a "stark series of questions about who owns truth, what is the meaning of justice and how do we, as a society, handle people who are different than we are."

"The Crucible" premiered in New York in 1953, during the height of the Red Scare. U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy was hunting down communists, black-listing people in show business and holding hearings in Congress to force people to come clean.

Miller was subpoenaed to appear before the House Un-American Activities Committee and was charged with contempt of Congress when he refused to name names of colleagues who had participated in Communist activities.

The conviction was overturned the following year. Miller was not among those blacklisted. But, the ordeal had a deep and obvious impact.

"I reflect what my heart tells me from the society around me. We are living at a time when there is great uncertainty in this country. I am trying to delve to the bottom of this and come up with a positive answer, but I have to go to hell to meet the devil," Mller was quoted as saying in his testimony before the House committee.

Now, Chicagoans will make the literary trip to hell with Arthur Miller.

Not only that. They'll be able to see the play in action, thanks to a Sept. 13-through-Nov. 11 production by the Steppenwolf Theatre Company, where the mayor's daughter, Nora Daley Conroy, is board member. Steppenwolf actors will also conduct readings at branch libraries across the city.

Steppenwolf's 32nd season is centered around a cornerstone question: What does it mean to be an American? The Crucible will "provide the first lens through which" to answer that question, said David New, associate artistic director of Steppenwolf Theatre.

"We're thrilled in this partnership to encourage the people of Chicago to read the story, yes. But, to deepen their engagement beyond the act of reading into conversation, into coming to the live performance, seeing the story vivified on stage, staying after the performance for a post-show conversation with fellow audience members.

"It's by deepening the engagement with the story and engaging in conversation that we'll together negotiate an interpretation of this tremendous story and begin to address some of the challenging questions this play raises, yes about the witch trial era of Salem, yes about the McCarthy era in the United States, but most importantly about how we live today," New said.

"The Crucible" is the second play to be featured in "One Book, One Chicago." The first play was Lorraine Hansberry's, "A Raisin in the Sun." Never before has a Chicago theater company performed the play in conjunction with the citywide celebration of reading.


At September 1, 2007 at 8:00 AM, Blogger Cynthia said...

I am going to be in Illinois (2 hrs outside of Chicago) in October... I wonder if I'd be able to make it to the city to see it. Thanks for sharing this, Raghu.

At September 1, 2007 at 12:03 PM, Blogger Pijush said...

Gr8 post Raghu, Its true that we sometime forget to take lessions from History.

At September 1, 2007 at 12:46 PM, Blogger Yoga Gal said...

The witch hunters are out and about and doing well, of course the Bush administration has made it easier for them with this "Homeland Security" bull shit! Now they can check out e-mail and watch if we're casting any evil spells. Ah me, nothing seems to change.

At September 1, 2007 at 4:38 PM, Blogger Nikon said...

That's a great description, very complete coverage - you should try journalism!
Thanks for your visit.

At September 3, 2007 at 9:17 PM, Blogger Jyoti said...

kya baat hai!

At September 4, 2007 at 9:11 PM, Blogger MM said...

GReat post! And thx for sharing!

At September 7, 2007 at 5:18 PM, Blogger Dawn....सेहर said...

WOw...good to read the review on a book!!! Will check out - thanks

At September 10, 2007 at 10:45 PM, Blogger Jyoti said...

you have stopped visiting my blog..iski wajah jaan sakate hain hum?????

At September 10, 2007 at 11:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice reading the was lovely going through the review!
Very nice!


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