Drama club takes cue from history

Woodland Regional High School seniors Jon DiPiro, left, and Laura Vitzoski rehearse a scene from the drama club’s upcoming production of ‘The Crucible’ last week at the school in Beacon Falls. The play opens Friday at 7 p.m. –LUKE MARSHALL

Woodland Regional High School seniors Jon DiPiro, left, and Laura Vitzoski rehearse a scene from the drama club’s upcoming production of ‘The Crucible’ last week at the school in Beacon Falls. The play opens Friday at 7 p.m. –LUKE MARSHALL

BEACON FALLS — The Woodland Regional High School drama club will take audiences back to a time when accusations of witchcraft led to hysteria and death.

The club’s production of “The Crucible” opens Friday at 7 p.m. at Woodland, 135 Back Rimmon Road. A second showing is set for Saturday at the same time. Tickets are $10 and can be reserved online at www.wrhsdramaclub.com or purchased at the door.

“The Crucible” was written by Arthur Miller and first performed in 1953. The play is based on the true story of the Salem witch trials in the 1600s. In the story, a group of young girls accuse other women in town of being witches in order to protect themselves.

“There was so much religious paranoia going on, things went to trial and it got blown out of proportion,” Woodland teacher and director Sue Cinoman said.

The story focuses on the characters of Abigail Williams and John Proctor, who have an affair.

Woodland senior Laura Vitzoski, who plays Abigail Williams, said her character is much more invested in the relationship.

“She tries to get close to John Proctor but, in that effort and the process of doing that, she ends up accusing people of witchcraft because she gets caught dancing in the woods. The only way she can save herself is by accusing other people,” Vitzoski said. “She ends up killing all these people because she doesn’t really care what happens to them in the process so long as the end result is that she gets to John Proctor.”

Although the play is set approximately 400 years ago, audiences today will be able to relate to the situations the characters find themselves in, Cinoman said.

“It is a very scary and super dramatic play. But it is one the kids really relate to because a lot of the themes of it have to do with bullying and the hysteria that can be created when kids get together and start pointing fingers at people who are innocent,” Cinoman said. “With social media they know it happens. So they can relate to it.”

The play was written during the Cold War, when Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy was leading a movement that accused many high profile people of being communist and un-American. This era is known colloquially as the Red Scare.

Senior Jon DiPiro, who plays John Proctor, said the play provides audiences some insight into American history.

“They wouldn’t come to feel happy. They would come to learn a little more about their country’s history. It’s very interesting,” DiPiro said.

While the play focuses on a dark part of American history, it is a favorite among cast members.

“I’ve been practicing for this play since before last school year ended. I’ve been going over and over this play because I love it so much. This is my favorite production and I am playing my favorite character, and I am super excited,” Vitzoski said.

Cinoman said the students are doing a good job of bringing the play to life.

“It’s challenging and it’s dramatic. They are playing characters that are definitely outside of themselves. But they are taking it really seriously and they are doing a fabulous job,” Cinoman said.

“The Crucible” is the book chosen for Region 16’s One Region, One Book program. This means that it is read and taught throughout the different grades in the region, which oversees schools in Beacon Falls and Prospect.

Vitzoski encouraged any student who is reading the book to come watch the play performed live.

“I think it would be cool to see it on stage. Reading it in a book is OK but seeing it acted out will definitely give a deeper meaning to what the story is,” Vitzoski said.