The CrucibleAuthor: Arthur Miller
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Set in the 17th century, it famously mirrors the communist witch-hunts of McCarthyism in 50s America. A fascinating and disturbing dramatisation of the collective psychology of persecution it shows all too painfully how even a close-knit rural community can be desolated once doubt and suspicion take hold.
The play was first performed at the Martin Beck Theatre on Broadway on January 22, 1953. The reviews of the first production, which Miller felt was stylized and too cold, were largely hostile, although the New York Times noted 'a powerful play [in a] driving performance.' Nonetheless, the production won the 1953 'Best Play' Tony Award. A year later a new production succeeded and the play became a classic. Today it is studied in high schools and universities, because of its status as a revolutionary work of theatre and for its allegorical relationship to testimony given before the House Committee On Un-American Activities during the 1950s. It is a central work in the canon of American drama.
The play was adapted for film twice, by Jean-Paul Sartre as the 1957 film Les Sorcières de Salem and by Miller himself as the 1996 film The Crucible, the latter with a cast including Paul Scofield, Daniel Day-Lewis and Winona Ryder. Miller's adaptation earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Screenplay based on Previously Produced Material, his only nomination. The play was also adapted by composer Robert Ward into an opera, The Crucible, which was first performed in 1961 and received the Pulitzer Prize. The play has also been presented several times on stage and TV.