The Crucible, 2 years and 11 times later

10/03 – Lunch-break edit. Sorry, dear readers. I am using this post a bit as my own notepad on things that i think about. I found an article citing Robert Delamere from back in 2010 when it was very early days for filming theater and it is interesting to see how he thought of his work and where it evolved to.


From left to right: host Louise Jury, Zara White (Mercy Lewis), Anna Madley (Elizabeth Proctor), Marama Corlett (Betty Parris), Robert Delamere (filmed performance director) -Click for bigger version

Apologies in advance for the slightly disjointed re-telling of the discussion which lasted about 35-40 minutes. Due to increased security measures I had to leave my backpack at the cloakroom and I didn’t think of taking a notebook from the backpack, just my valuables and a bottle of water. I tried to keep my eyes and ears peeled and although I think I captured the meaning of what was said it won’t be the exact wording.

I don’t know how much of this will be new to you, but it was interesting, especially since we haven’t had a chance before to hear Robert Delamere talk more extensively about his experience with the Crucible. His answers and comments were peppered throughout the discussion, but for some reason I found it easier to recall them separately; His were the closing words before the screening began 🙂

They were all excited about there being another screening of the Crucible, some saw it for the first time on screen on this occasion. It was a good discussion;  It was also bit emotional to see such familiar faces again and it obviously brought back some very fond memories for them too. It was great to have the opportunity to see the play again and the talk at the beginning added something special to it, I’m thankful to them for making the time 🙂

Without further ado:

Screen talk with Marama Corlett (Betty Parris), Anna Madley (Elizabeth Proctor), Zara White (Mercy Lewis), Robert Delamere (filmed performance director) – hosted by Louise Jury

  • Louise Jury commented that at the time of the premiere she was still a member of the press and she was the one who at the end of such an emotional evening ‘got to ask the question about how it felt to be back on stage after 12 years?’
  • AM, MC and ZW all mentioned how happy they were the performance had been captured especially for all those who at the time could not see it in personal, particularly internationally (they all seemed to remember with fondness how many people were interested in the show); all 3 mentioned that people did indeed come to see the show from all corners of the world and that it was exciting that so many people wanted to see it;

Roles & Rehearsing:

  • Anna Madley –Elizabeth Proctor – it is such a great part and so interesting because women in the play – wives -only have power in their society through the men and yet, as the play progresses, the balance changes; She was fascinated also by trying to show a ‘good’ woman as it is hard to play ‘good’.
  • Anna Madley – in rehearsals they created this safe space where they could experiment and understand/live their character. Yael spent a lot of time defining the society in which these people lived, their beliefs, constraints, rules and interactions so that they were able to find the place of ‘their’ character in this society. But it was equally a play of personal detail, of showing the couple trying to rebuild their broken relationship, trying to work through the adultery.
  • All 4 commented about the background of the play and the historical approach saying that although the political messages Miller included was very much present they were also interested in the historical story depicted and its inspiration. The way this particular society works was an important part of the production, who the people are, what their roles are within this community. How a community can come to tear itself apart and ‘accuse their neighbour’. Jury mentioned for the audience present that it was a very dark interpretation of the play. (They tried to keep the discussion general as, after inquiry, there were quite a few in the audience who didn’t know the play so they didn’t want to spoil too much of the story)
  • Marama Corlett mentioned that her ballet training came in very handy when creating the ‘possessed movements’ but they were very lucky in having a great choreographer with whom they worked in great detail. Her naturally petite frame helped in portraying a young girl;
  • Zara White commented on the extended collaborative work they did within the group of girls; they spent long periods of time of time together and really felt as a unit; Louise Jury commented about how frightening they were as a group and how fascinating it was to watch the power these girls came to hold over the people in town. Anna Madley jokingly commented that she felt left out of the ‘girl group’.
  • The word intense came back again and again about rehearsals and when asked how was the run after all the rehearsals all 3 said smilingly ‘intense’; Robert Delamere and Louise Jury also confirmed that ‘intense’ also defined their experience of seeing the show live.

Performing :

  • They remember the sounds and smells; apparently some plants may have been imported to produce the specific smell that wafted through the hall at the beginning;
  • Yael wished that they could have captured the sensory experience as well as the visual one 🙂
  • They initially had a live chicken in the show and it housed on the rooftop of the Old Vic for several months but unfortunately would not comply with the hygiene requirements on stage and finally got its P45 before the previews 🙂
  • It was 5 very intense months and at the end of the evening some found relief in drinks 😉 Anna Madley said she went back home to breastfeed her baby and sadly had to miss out on all the drinks during the entire run, for which she was envious;
  • They said they couldn’t really sleep during those 5 months;
  • They were thrilled that it was filmed but Anna Madley mentioned that they had to concentrate to not try and deliver the best for the camera but forget that the cameras were there and work as if it is a normal theatre performance where you try to better your last one and continue exploring the character each day; She also mentioned that in a way you continue doing that until the end of the run when you wish you had another run to continue experimenting and improving. In the end they found they forgot about the cameras and treated them in their locations as if they were just another member of the audience sitting there.

Audience/performing in the round:

  • Slight jokes from Zara White and Anna Madley in response to a questions from LJ about the ‘passionate fans’; They mentioned that Richard Armitage ‘bless him, went out every single night after the performance to sign and take pictures with the fans’. Zara said ‘there were hundreds of them! … well, maybe I am exaggerating ;-), but there were many!’ and that they had quite some characters in the performances. Marama Corlett added that actually they felt the support from the audience and the warmth and that she felt as if people were ‘giving them a hug’ in emotional support;
  • Performing in the round was both exciting and challenging as it can be potentially distracting to have the audience so close. Anna Madley mentioned that she was thrilled about working in the round as all your expressions and all of you is exposed as you can be seen from all angles. And that although you act for the people immediately next to you, at the same time you have to make sure you reach the person in the last corner and that the Old Vic is quite high.
  • Marama Corlett remembered standing by the side stairs looking at the audience and ‘seeing them getting tired’ (she didn’t mean because of long sitting, but rather as a consequence of tension and intensity, even though as an audience you are sitting and watching) and also getting emotionally involved and wanting to engage with what was happening very directly.
  • All 3 mentioned that it was special to build that connection to the audience each night and feel at the end of each night a sort of unity, shared experience. (it seemed to me that the connection to the audience was something that they remembered fondly from the experience).

Robert Delamere:

  • The Crucible has been a very successful recording, over 3 million students have seen it through their special education programme; since they first included it in their catalogue it has been the top seller to this day;
  • He’s always been fascinated with the play, had directed the Sheffield Crucible a few years earlier and had been keen to see the Old Vic version on stage;
  • He saw it in the previews and was convinced it needed to be captured 🙂 He told his team after the performance ‘We are doing The Crucible!’
  • The Miller estate were very supportive of the project and are very happy with the result and also its international reach; they have kept coming back for several copies since and there was a special screening for the family in the US;
  • He loved working with Yael and he wanted to capture the feeling of it as accurately as possible; he approached her and she said she would take as much time as necessary to talk about the play and direction – they ended up spending 9 hours together thinking and planning with Delamere story-boarding each scene (ohhh, so there were his boards! J fascinating!)
  • It was captured on 3 consecutive nights and took about 10 weeks to edit; they had about 9 cameras filming the performance. In edits he went back to the emotional core of each scene – they discussed what were the 3 emotional points that needed to be focused on in each scene, rather than just the lines themselves – and this is how they decided which angles to show.
  • He expressed a hope that they had managed to capture for the screen that intensity which characterised the experience in the theatre and that the audience in the cinema would feel the connection to it by the end of the play.
  • He thought the last scene was especially beautiful and touching with these 2 people letting go of all barriers and walls they had built up and baring their souls to each other the way they hadn’t done in years. It was his favourite moment from the play (he expressed it very beautifully; wish I could have remembered his exact words).
  • They were excited about the twitter support and had fun watching the bits of news being followed by so many people
  • The project is special to him also on a personal note because he was lucky to meet Miller himself when he was 25 and Miller was 83 and he asked Miller what he would like audiences to take away from the play. Miller said: ‘life is about courage’. He believes this Crucible certainly captures that message.


PS. This is all for tonight, it is 2am, I am wide awake and full of thoughts about the play.

Right back where I was sometime in July 2014. Tonight it does not feel at all like it was nearly 2 years ago.

And unsurprisingly I’ll have some more thoughts to share about seeing the play again so I’ll be editing this over the next few days.

10/03 – Delamere back in 2010, when theater filming was at its beginnings. The subject fascinates me as i like drama on TV and on stage and i find sometimes they get closer and closer together. He managed to put the finger on why i always felt the filmed Crucible was quite different from other plays i saw broadcast in the cinema, why it felt so far away from a static capture.

and an interview 5 years later:

The Crucible Interview: Director Robert Delamere


48 thoughts on “The Crucible, 2 years and 11 times later

  1. Pingback: Eyewitness report from the showing of The Crucible at the Barbican (with discussion) | Me + Richard Armitage

    • Thanks, if i remember anything else i’ll add but i think this is it, i had to physically restrain myself from starting to blab about the play.. again! and focus on this 🙂 It was hard, but i hope there are some new things for people to read in this 🙂


      • I was relieved that the rest of the cast was okay with / happy about the fact that there were so many Armitage fans there.


        • just before i try to hop into bed and close my eyes to pretend i am going to sleep and actually dream myself back to the Crucible 😉 ehem.. i have to add my impressions.. somebody ehem.. may have opened their mouth to ask an audience question and prompted the discussion about playing in the round after the fans comments and so on and may have said in a slightly challenging tone that she had been there 5 times.. cough. That someone wisely left out the number of cinema screenings she had seen. Objectively and logically one cannot be happy about the audience numbers, attendance, international reach and joke about fans at the same time; ‘something’ prompted the numbers and interest to grow.

          Liked by 2 people

  2. I probably should have been more exact in my comment. Of course they were happy to be employed in a production that drew so much attention and to play to a full house every night. No question. And of course they aren’t going to say something negative about the audiences. However, all summer there were “leaks” from people who claimed to be connected with Old Vic that the theater was frustrated with fan behaviors. So it was neat to hear someone associated with the production say that they felt that the large groups who were there for Armitage gave them a feeling of warmth and support.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, it was a very soothing comment, especially as it came immediately after the fan comment and with no prompting whatsoever (the audience question was after that); Describing it as a hug were the exact words used and it was a beautiful thought and it was utterly sincere.

      Liked by 2 people

      • yes i am surprised too but then when i saw the play i remembered Tituba says she used chicken blood for the spell Abby wanted from her, so maybe it was meant to be part of the ritual.
        I like the idea of it being part of the Proctor household, but that is probably unlikely given the owner’s comparatively scary sized boots 😉


    • I’ve been thinking about that.. it could have been part of the Proctor household but i can imagine that would have made act 2 a bit of a nightmare, poor thing trying to escape Proctor’s massive boots 😉
      I think since Tituba mentions she gave Abby chicken blood to drink for the spell she wanted maybe she was meant to walk about with a chicken in her hands?
      Either way i think the poor thing was better off without a career in theater 😉


  3. This is fantastic, thank you. I’m going to have to make time to watch The Crucible again, but David Copperfield is still in the player at the moment. Again, thanks so much for taking us with you, bringing your experience to us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re very welcome, some of the insights were really interesting and it was nice to see how vividly they still remembered it 2 years on.
      I am also deep into D Copperfield, i usually listen when on transport and out of reflex got my phone out again on my way home but just couldn’t last night 🙂 I’m happy to be back in Salem for a little while and give Copperfield a break 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Herzlichen Dank für diese ausführliche Beschreibung des Abends, Hariclea. Kein Wunder, dass du danach ganz aufgedreht warst. 😉
    Sag mal, fand bei dieser Gelegenheit nicht auch ein gewisser Stuhl eine neue Besitzerin (gutes Wort im Zusammenhang mit einem Stuhl… )?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ach es war eher das Stuck an sich und die spontanen Erinnerungen die es aufgebracht hat 🙂
      Ach, den Stuhl habe ich ehrlich gesagt ganz vergessen, habe mich erst dann wieder dran erinnert als ich das fertig geschrieben hatte. Wer weiss ob wir uberhaupt erfahren an wen es geht 😉 Eigentlich ziemlich unwichtig.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Das Stück ist bestimmt sehr aufwühlend. Bisher habe ich nur Ausschnitte gesehen. Vor einigen Tagen habe ich ein deutsches Hörspiel von 1954 darüber gefunden und es zur Vorbereitung angehört. Schon dieses Hörspiel hat mich total fasziniert. Wenn ich mit Spooks durch bin, dann steht “The Crucible” auf dem Programm.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I think The Crucible is perfect for theatre in the round precisely because of its intensity. I saw a production in the round here and was blown away. A little worried that the new Broadway one cannot carry the same electric charge because it’s on a very traditional proscenium stage. But we shall see!
    (V. impressed with your memory!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes i think it works in the round because of that, it drags you into the proceedings and in the lives of these people :-)Hm, i am not sure the traditional stage is my question mark.. it is more the director tbh. I love his work but it tends to be very modern (i’ve seen Greek plays of his in very stark office environments and the View from the bridge with Mark Strong was his ):

      There is a certain.. i don’t want to call it coldness.. probably rather ‘starkness’ to his productions. BUT, i do think this kind of empty space can draw attention to the emotions and the characters. It could go either way, but the earthy, unhinged, ‘from your gut’ expressions of Yael Farber is not his style at all, bit like night and day. I am really curious how his style will work with what i feel is such a gutsy play 🙂
      The ‘down and dirty’ version never allowed the viewer to step away, to distance himself, you were defenseless in front of it, emotionally raw.
      I was somewhat surprised that i was concentrated at all as i was utterly tired, but i sat down and saw them and the buzz was on, it was as if all my senses were plugged in 🙂 I haven’t slept last night and it is all over my brain like a sensitive rash. (Which does not surprise me, it’s strangely energizing at it will take a day or two for the adrenaline to wear off again. I experienced it for nearly 5 months in 2014, i should have expected it ;-))

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’re right, there is a danger that Van Hove will strip it too much and make it too cerebral, to universalizing. I’ve seen the costumes (very nondescript modern clothing) and the set (minimalist modern setting, a bit reminiscent of a school auditorium). It will be up to the actors to bring it to life, make it organic and vital and messy and individual. Music will be by Philip Glass, but that seems in keeping with Van Hove’s style too.
        How interesting that you had an inrush of all the adrenalin and emotion of the original! That’s great, but losing sleep is not good : (

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh, and one thing about this account did irritate me. Having to do with a special screening for the Miller family. I would have thought that once they’d seen it, they’d have given it the green light for theatre screenings in this region, but they never did. GRRRRRH.


    • They sold the exclusive rights to that earlier — if I remember the discussion. I don’t remember who it was that still owns them, but this was discussed at some point that summer / fall.

      Liked by 1 person

        • The rights to screening it in a cinema are separate from the live performance rights, though. I think the people who made the Daniel Day-Lewis film still own the cinema screening rights. And yes, re: staging it in the US.


        • the Miller estate with close relatives very much alive seems to be very keen on protecting the legacy of the plays and are very picky, for a good reason i should think, of the rights 🙂
          TBH i think ultimately the vast bulk of the audience and RD confirmed that, comes through the education stream rather than the cinema one.


          • Yeah, absolutely. I know students at the last university I taught at saw it — there were pictures of it on a poster advertising the class that I saw.

            Liked by 1 person

            • yes, i was somewhat surprised at the beginning, but not at all once i looked again at their educational stream, it’s a significant part of their activity, which i like 🙂 And of that audience the US is by far the biggest taker 🙂
              It warmed my heart to think that millions of students, quite literally, will get to know the play with this production, this cast and particularly this John Proctor 🙂


            • Miler is certainly among the big five, if not the big three, of 20th c. American playwrights, so it makes sense that the audience would be big here. I’d put this play up for “American play that an American high school student is most likely to be familiar with” with confidence. I still think most high school students are probably seeing the DDL / Winona Rider production, though. Easier to get at. I don’t have access anymore (since leaving that campus) but if I recall correctly, most of the rest of their catalogue would be things that an American college student would be much less likely to watch.


    • the problem isn’t that.. it is the Crucible production which will premiere on Broadway in a few days, directed by Ivo van Hove and with Ben Whishaw in it, the rights were taken up by them… no can do with this being current.


    • in any case, when the rights become available, cinema based distribution depends on territory wide chains of cinemas willing to put cultural stuff on, like opera, theater broadcasts. Imagine if there was no desire to do much of the Hobbit EE one in cinemas the likelihood of mainstream cinemas to do this. In Europe and elsewhere it has run in the smaller, arts specific chain, or with a section of arts broadcasting, who do the NT , ballet and opera broadcasts from the UK.


  7. Danke Hari! Da kommen so intensive Erinnerungen wieder hoch ❤ So ein Theaterstück habe ich vorher nicht erlebt und bisher auch nicht mehr wieder 🙂 Ob das an der Inszenierung oder doch eher am cast lag? ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thanks for your review of the proceedings and the many details that you remembered. It would have been great to see it in a cinema here in Canada but I cherish the memories of the two times I saw it in London and for the rest of my life will be grateful that I took the plunge and crossed the pond. I can feel your excitement in your words.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: The Crucible, 2 years and 11 times later - The National

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