Arthur Miller's famous play "The Crucible" is about to hit the stage of Beijing's National Center for the Performing Arts. Written as an allegory of McCarthyism in 1953, the play has become a classic, not just in the US, but also in China. The masterpiece now returns to the stage to great expectations.
Dark days brought back to life in the rehearsal room of the National Theater of China.
This is a court scene abstract of "The Crucible..." The play is based on the notorious Salem witch trials, hearings and prosecutions of people accused of witchcraft in colonial Massachusetts between 1692 and 1693.... but it serves as an allegory of the McCarthy era, when the U.S. government blacklisted accused communists.
When it first appeared on stage in China in 1982, the masterpiece reminded people of the turmoil of the Cultural Revolution.
The director of the play, Wang Xiaoying, says classics such as the Crucible have the power to transcend time and borders. He explains this is why he has made only few modifications to the original drama.
"The best way to pay tribute to such a classic is to bring it to life just as it was created. All the cast and crew are trying their best to let the play breathe for itself on stage. So we haven't made much changes to the story," Wang says.
"The Crucible" has kept most of the actors that appeared in the 2002 adaptation in Beijing and Shanghai. Two decades later, young girls that played "witches" have become mothers... their performances now more mature and powerful.
Zhang Qiuge plays the leading role of Proctor, who faces the ultimate choice between dying with honor or living with shame. The man sporting a head of gray hair says the role has challenged him both physically and spiritually.
"Sometimes I doubt whether I still have the energy for the role. The play is such a classic that one can spare no effort. It's also like a re-union for all of my fellow actors, as well as a memorial performance for the playwright," Zhang says.
The play will appear on stage at the National Center for the Performing Arts from January 14th to 18th, ten years after its creator Arthur Miller passed away.