I have a love/hate relationship with The Crucible. Along with Death of a Salesman, it seems that this play was required reading in every high school and college English, Literature, or theatre class. When I was in high school and college during the 1980s (yes, I had a mullet), it seems that Arthur Miller was the only American playwright the textbook companies knew. I got to know the play really well. I love the way Miller explores the themes of humanity and legalistic religion out of control, but the play is so long, so heavy, and has so many characters. It’s a tough one to stage, and it’s tough on audiences..
Nevertheless, because The Crucible seemed to be required in so many classes, I got to do multiple character studies of John Proctor, and played the character in a lot of scene work for class. I came to love his humanity, his honesty and his willingness to stand up to the falsehood around him even at the cost of his life. The further I get in life’s journey, the more I identify with his failings and his courage.
It’s somehow tragic to put so much work into a character, fall in love with portraying him, and then never have the opportunity to play out the entirety of the script. It’s like that long, lost love you almost had, but life never allowed the two of you to get together. You always look back with longing and wonder “What if?”
While I would love to play the role, I know that my age is now against me. Like a number of great roles, that window of opportunity has likely passed. John Proctor will always be one of my “what ifs?”