Actors rehearse a scene from The Crucible. Photo: Mohamed Omar

A witching good time

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Kicking off the 2011/2012 season, the Ryerson Theatre School is putting on The Crucible, a play about sorcery and society. Loren Hendin reports

Everyone likes a happy story of witchcraft and wizardry, with flying carpets, spells and the classic pointed hats.

Well you won’t find that here.

Ryerson’s fourth-year theatre class will be taking on playwright Arthur Miller’s famed play The Crucible from Oct. 4 to 13.

The play is based on the 1692 witch trials in Salem, Massachusetts. It’s a fast-paced story that begins with a group of children being caught dancing in a forest, leaps quickly to accusations and trials of witchcraft and finally evolves into utter hysteria.

But don’t jump to conclusions just yet: this isn’t a “double, double, toil and trouble” kind of play.

The Crucible also explores the conflict between religion and law, good and evil, and dozens of other complex themes deep within the many layers of the script.

“I’m not into spooky things but I’m into this kind of spooky,” says Laurie Campbell, a fourth-year actor who will be playing Reverend John Hale in the play.

“It’s creepy in a psychological way. It gets you thinking, it’s quick-paced and there’s no point where there’s not action,” she says.

Sounds a whole lot more entertaining than Charmed.

The Crucible has been performed on stages all over the world, but the fourth-year cast is bringing their own spin to the famous script.

It’s the first play of their final year and, although they’ve had only one month to put the whole thing together, they are ready to show off what they’ve got.

“I think we have a really edgy show,” says Campbell.

“It’s a fresh young group of actors, we’re really eager and I think the audience is going to feel the energy.”

To bring out the best in the cast, the school has enlisted director Lee Wilson.

Wilson is not only an exceptional director, but also a Ryerson Theatre School graduate. He serves as a constant reminder that it is very possible to get a job after graduation, and forces the students to work harder and show off their best.

Following the end of The Crucible they will have only one month to put together their next play, The Bundle by Edward Bond, which will debut in November.

Their final production will be June Havoc’s Marathon 33 in February.

But until then, they have to focus on the daunting task that is The Crucible.

Many of the characters are named after real people from history, so the actors have a lot to live up to, on top of deciphering the complex script and managing the perfect balance of spooky and serious in the suitable month of October.

“We’re still discovering so many new things about the story,” says Campbell. “I think we will be throughout the run.”

This isn’t Bewitched folks, this is theatre.

The Crucible runs from Oct. 4 to 13 at Ryerson Theatre. Student tickets are $14, while general admission is $18. Cash only!

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