Drama; the Crucible and Vinegar Tom

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Vinegar Tom was written by Caryl Churchill, a feminist, in 1976 but set in the 17th Century. The play was inspired by the women’s rights act of 1970, and the discrimination of women. The title comes from the name of a horrible creature which is supposed to be a witch’s familiar. It is about how four naïve and innocent women’s lives are affected throughout the Salem witch-hunts. Modernised song, dance and rhythm are used to combine the horror of the past and attitudes which have carried on to our world today. The plot includes lots of witchcraft and demonstrates clear discrimination of women at that time, outlining society’s rejection of people who have differences. Vinegar Tom was influenced by Bertolt Brecht, Churchill, like Brecht wanted people to think about what they had saw, instead of just engrossing themselves in an entertaining play, she wanted them to act on their decisions of the play, and not getting too emotionally involved with plot or characters. She does this by using epic theatre, so the audience thinks about what is happening, not what is going to happen, plus the use of non- realistic songs to break tension and add political comment. The play is relevant to today’s audience as it looks at how prejudice against women is still occurring. The Crucible was written by Arthur Miller in 1953 and set in 1692, based on the actual events which led to the Salem Witch Trials, leading to the deaths of over 150 people accused of witchcraft. The play was in response to McCarthyism: where a committee in America grew fearful that the communism would destroy the capitalist American way of life. They made witnesses come to answer charges that they were a communist and give names of other communists; Miller was made to appear before the committee. This was called McCarthyism; Senator McCarthy making the US government get rid of communists; mirrored in the play where women were accused because of unknown causes to bad events, they were then forced to name other ‘witches’,

Adding to this Miller’s failed marriage with Monroe was partly because of his guilt and confusion from his previous marriage. This is represented in The Crucible, by Proctor having an affair with Abigail, behind his wife Elizabeth’s back. It all escalates, eventually Proctor is in court arguing his innocence, when he says, ‘I have three children – how may I teach them to walk like men in the world, and I sold my friends?’ I think this is how Miller felt when in front of the committee, now expressing himself through Proctor. These events helped Miller connect with the witchcraft trials two centuries before in Salem, influencing him to write ‘The Crucible’. The story is about young girls who after dancing in the woods get accused of witchcraft, Reverend Parris, both father of one girl and uncle of another, calls an expert who agrees that the girls’ strange behaviour is the devil’s work. This leads the girls to accusing others and being scapegoats for the problems in the community. The religious court does not rest until it discovers who the cause of all the evil is. The crucible is relevant to today’s audience as it looks at betrayal and how gossip can have devastating effects.

The play is influenced by Konstantin Stanislavski, because Miller wanted the play to be naturalistic to reflect the real story. Stanislavski is primarily known for Realism, where he bases his methods on personal experiences, using ‘emotion memory’, getting actors to this of their own experiences to embrace an emotion, making the performance as close to real life as it can get. Also using ‘Given circumstances’, where actors are aware of the facts about the character, not only in the script but the social, historical and political facts. Plus Stanislavski influenced Miller to use realistic sets, keeping everything as realistic as possible.

Social Cultural Historical Political

The Crucible was based on puritan people in Salem 1692. Their society was...
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