MSA students stage ‘The Crucible” Thursday, Friday, Saturday nightsPublished 2:00pm Thursday, October 3, 2013
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To get the kinks out, to get in sync with one another and to be able to recite long stretches of dialogue, it is customary for theater casts to perform rehearsals.
The intended result is an audience-dazzling performance that connects each theatergoer to the characters, transcending the confines of the stage.
How quickly the cast is able to suspend one’s belief system and truly become the characters they are playing, depends partly upon their trust in one another. It also depends upon their level of talent.
And of course, practice makes perfect.
Thus, the cast of “The Crucible” – set to be performed officially tonight and Friday and Saturday nights – promises to be entirely convincing and perform as close to flawlessly as possible, if Wednesday night’s rehearsal is any indicator.
Brookhaven resident Ian Sticks played the role of John Proctor, and delivered a stellar performance. Sticks was accompanied by junior and senior Mississippi School of the Arts students from communities throughout the state in Wednesday night’s rehearsal.
Other notable performances came from Elsa Schmitz, from Poplarville, who played Elizabeth Proctor, and Serenity Jones, who played a convincing Judge Danforth.
Dr. Robert Brooks is overseeing the production as the director, and he anticipates superb performances on show nights. “I liked what I saw tonight,” he said following Wednesday’s rehearsal. “I’m looking forward to seeing how things shape up on show night,” Brooks said.
Since 1996, Brooks has been the man behind the scenes at the MSA theater productions. Every year he puts on a play that includes every senior involved with the theatrical arts program at the school.
“The students pick the particular play. There just needs to be enough roles in it so that every senior can be incorporated into the performance. This year, the students chose ‘The Crucible,’” Brooks explained.
Symbolically, Arthur Miller’s play was originally performed during the McCarthy hearings in the 1950s. Like the witch trials, the McCarthy hearings were another time in American history where the mass hysteria of the moment, drummed up by Sen. Joe McCarthy in his bid to route out Communists, turned family member and neighbor against each other.
During that time, playwright Miller appeared before the House of Representatives Committee on Un-American Activities himself, as did a number of writers, performers, artists and even politicians of the time. As during the Salem Witch Trials, the presumption of innocence seemed to have little bearing.
From 7:30 to 9:30 at Wednesday night’s play rehearsal, one got the feeling that they were witness to that kind of injustice and paranoia.
Of course, there were some bugs, gaffes and temporary pauses in the flow of the performance at the rehearsal, but hardly worth the commentary. Overall, one was moved to Salem, Mass., in the late 1600s, during the witch trials of the time.
Showtime for “The Crucible” is set for 7 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the Enochs Theater at the Mississippi School of the Arts campus. Admission is $5 for adults and $2 for students. Tickets may be reserved by calling 601-823-1317 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday and Friday.
Brooks teaches acting, directing, theater history, dramatic literature and theory, play writing and play production at MSA.
Brooks’ students have won numerous awards during his time at MSA and have gone on to study at prestigious universities such as the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, American Music and Dramatic Academy and Columbia College in Chicago.