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Arthur Miller’s The Crucible to be staged at the national theatre

Ramona Depares interviews Kenneth Spiteri, who takes on the lead role of John Proctor.

Nadia Vella and Kenneth Spiteri in The Crucible.

Nadia Vella and Kenneth Spiteri in The Crucible.

The Crucible was written in 1953 and deals with a fictional account of the Salem Witch Trials. Do you think the narrative still resonates today?

Yes. The play does look at the corruption of Church and State and their encroachment upon the private lives of individuals, but I think the play resonates because it has all the hallmarks that keep an audience engaged: well defined characters, high stakes, lots of tension, identifiable and complex relationships, great plot and dialogue.

Do you see any potential allegories to today’s society and current events, especially with respect to gender violence and gender inequalities?

There is a great deal of misogynistic and ugly patriarchal behaviour in this play. Interestingly, it is a young woman who leads the manipulation of the powers of the village, consequently leading to the execution of innocent people and traumatising an entire community. I guess that could be an interesting topic for debate. But, aside from gender issues, the play has the potential to provoke further reflection on issues related to the corruption of society, and the manipulative powers of religion. In addition to the thematic context this play is also about a group of people fighting for their core principals, their spiritual reality and in many cases their lives.

What did you find interesting about John Proctor’s character?

Lots, but most of all his temperament, his sense of justice, his situation, his mistakes and his decisions.

What are the biggest challenges portraying him?

To find both the strength and vulnerability of how he responds to his situation without making him neither a complete arse nor a martyr.

Will the play be given a more contemporary, edgy twist or will it be played straight?

Come and watch it to find out. 

Proctor’s character comes with many shades of grey. How do you view him?

Hungry. Ill-tempered. Vulnerable. Strong. Ugly. Honest. Loyal. Tender. Torn. Violent. Soft. Sane.

Is he a selfless martyr who redeems himself in the end? Or is he the ultimate manifestation of pride?

Neither. He is a flawed man, in a traumatic situation who ultimately makes a decision he believes to be the right one. Whether or not he is redeemed is a choice for each individual audience member to interpret.

How are rehearsals proceeding?

Great. I have the privilege of working with a courageous director and an extraordinary cast in a dynamite play. It is also a Manoel Theatre production and the first theatre play that the Manoel Theatre has produced in 30 years. 

Is there a moral to this story?

No, it’s far more interesting than that!

The Crucible shows between May 16 and 20 at the Manoel Theatre, Valletta.

www.teatrumanoel.com.mt

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