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The Crucible

June 2013

  • Nina Bertok

Arthur Miller’s classic play returns to the stage this month as the Melbourne Theatre Company presents The Crucible, starring Australia’s top theatre and television actors David Wenham and Anita Hegh.

Written at the height of the McCarthy trials during the 1950s, decades on the play still remains a true classic and relevant as ever, according to Hegh who portrays Elizabeth, the brave and loyal wife of John Proctor.

“Well, I suppose when Arthur Miller wrote the play, he was really writing about what was happening in America at the time,” she offers. “But there are so many themes within the story that still play out today in our lives. Suspicion, accusation, affairs – these are pretty timeless things, they don’t belong to just one era. The whole story is based on real life events, it was just too hot a topic to be able to write about at the time in America, so I think it was a great way to draw that parallel with the Salem witch trials because when you look at it, the two were really so similar in the way that people got treated.”

Add to a classic story a brilliant cast and the ultimate role that every actress strives to play at some point in her career, and you get a straight-out career highlight for Hegh, being involved in the Sam Strong-directed take on The Crucible. While Hegh claims the story stays mostly true to the Miller original, Strong, MTC’s Associate Artistic Director, adds one or two minor twists to it.

“The great thing is that Sam really respects that this is a really well-written play already, so there’s really no need to alter it in any way or to make changes. He has adhered to what Miller has asked for and the way that the story has normally been approached. Sam tries to make the story as clear as possible because it works and it’s a very moving tale. The only difference, I guess, is that we are going to be sticking to the accents that we naturally have. We’ve got actors with various backgrounds so you’ll hear an American, English and Australian accent here and there. We’ve decided to use our own voices because it’s the most authentic approach. Everyone has given their all to their characters and everyone inspires each other.”

With just two weeks to go before The Crucible officially opens for Melbourne audiences, Hegh claims no one could be more excited than her about stepping into the shoes of one of the great female leads – as Elizabeth Proctor.

“She is one of the great female roles. She’s such a beautiful character because she is this woman who is trying to be good and trying her best to do things right. Elizabeth is from a time when the benchmark was high in terms of behaviour and how much good you do in the world. People’s idea of faith and relationship with God and how they treated others was very highly valued. And it was a hard life, as well.

“What’s really interesting about her is that she goes from being a person who thinks she is very good and doing everything right, yet by the end of it she realises there were things that she could have done within her marriage to prevent John Proctor from having an affair with Abigail. She’s an amazing character but quite a humbling person to portray. It’s not often that you get to do these really well-written plays that are so classic but so contemporary at the same time.”


The Crucible shows at Southbank Theatre from June 22 until August 3.



1. The Crucible cast during rehearsal.
2. In background Paul English, David Wenham, John McTernan, Julia Blake, Heather Bolton. In foreground Greg Stone, Amanda McGregor and Elizabeth Nabben.
3. Anita Hegh and Brian Lipson in rehearsal

Photos: Gina Milicia




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