Just a few weeks away from opening night of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible and B&B Resident Acting Company member Jessi Walters (who is playing Ann Putnam) blogs about the unique challenges and opportunities presented by performing in Miller’s chilling and historically relevant work!
I’ve been having some great conversation with Gary Strong (AKA Papa Putnam) about the dichotomy of our characters as a couple, and it’s brought up a wealth of food for thought about the show.
The characters in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible are an incredibly tight-knit community. We see each other every day, morning to night, around the town, in the field, and in the church. We knock on each other’s doors, and share stories, and break bread. Some of these people have done back-breaking labor for years with pride, and their friends assist in getting their hands dirty. Some sit back and count their money and climb the social ranks, while others work hard for us. We have seen children be born and family members die from disease and outside brutality. We have prayed, sang psalms, and baptized our children together.
We have taken advantage of and spread lies about the other. We’ve shared juicy, bitchy town gossip with each other. We know all the dirty secrets of our friends and enemies, and nobody goes to the bathroom without the whole town knowing. God’s presence is just as palpable as the Devil’s, and anything is a possibility in this brave new world. We are a people of extreme conviction, not only about what we believe in, but how we live our daily lives. We employ each other, some of us have to be subservient to others, and everyone is dependent on his/her neighbor for survival. This is how the community runs and grows. We have weathered the harshest New England Winters, and prospered from the lush times of harvest.
For me, as an actor, it is a unique challenge to really imagine a day in the life of these people, and as actors, to remember our true given circumstances. This town is a tight UNIT. Some of us are at the top of the status food chain, and some at the very bottom. This is a remarkable opportunity to explore status and utilize our bodies, and how they take the space onstage.
All of this considered, it makes me realize how truly gut-wrenching it is when our characters start accusing and condemning each other. We know these people who we charge and send to the gallows, and we know them very, very well.
Scott has told us before that these are primal people who run off of basic human instinct; survival of the fittest, with much to gain, but so much more to lose. We are also in a unique position to be in a show that has unbelievable documentation of its true life events.
The next time we take our seats on stage, I look forward to seeing the individual members of this community, people with a history and a purpose, and not fellow actors getting to their chairs.
I believe we can use our given circumstances and relationships to push this show into something real and tangible. I believe in us as an ensemble, and I believe in this show. It’s really crackling with magic already.
Jessi Walters (aka Goody “Seven Dead Babies” Putnam)