SIOUX CITY -- Russell Wooley has a wish list, if you will, of plays he would like the LAMB Arts Regional Theatre to stage.
He can now cross "The Crucible" off that list.
Wooley, LAMB's managing artistic director (and "Crucible" director), said he has been waiting to do Arthur Miller's classic 1953 tale of betrayal, deceit, guilt and religious hysteria during the 1692 Salem Witch Trials.
Similarly to a recent production of "Dido and Aeneas" at Morningside, the Crucible actors will be dressed simply "in clothes," Wooley said -- not period clothes, but not contemporary, either.
Giles Corey won't be wearing a felt buckle hat, but at the same time Ann Putnam won't be wearing yoga pants and Reverend Hale isn't going to sport a zoot suit.
Wooley said that (as in the "Dido and Aeneas" production), period costumes would just be a barrier for the audience, framing the production in a way that downplays the story's relevance to modern times. Even though the events of the play happened more than three centuries ago, the lessons still speak to the human condition.
"Sometimes it's really easy to look at this show and go, 'Oh my goodness! Look what happened back then!'" Wooley said.
So, the costumes were done in such a way that makes them more timeless. For example, John Proctor (a farmer) wears a "muted flannel shirt and trousers and work boots."
"I talked to my costumers, and it was a daunting task -- they kept saying, 'What? How do you want us to do that?'" he said. "Well, we worked and worked and worked and worked, and I'm very, very satisfied with the result."
The scenery was put together in such a way that it can be assembled one scene after another in haste, with each one being distinct.
"You can say, 'Oh my gosh, those are trees.' But then, after a few seconds of scene-change light, bring out a bed, you bring out a chair, and you're in Reverend Parris's house. At the end of that scene, you bring out a different table and a different chair, and you're in Proctor's house," he said. "It moves very, very swiftly, and that's what the theater is all about."
Brian Hamman plays John Proctor, the protagonist who is torn by past sins (including marital infidelity) in the midst of the witch trial drama. Hamman sees a lot of good in the character, despite Proctor's failings.
"The thing is about John Proctor is -- you always try to do what's right, and there are always going to be times in your life where you may stray from what you know is right, and then you really have to deal with the regret and the consequences that surround those decisions," Hamman said.
Hamman said that, in his time playing John Proctor, he has channeled a lot of the character's emotional turmoil -- even the emotions Hamman hasn't felt in his own life.
"I liken it to when you have a really horrible nightmare, and you wake up and that feeling that you had in the nightmare, you have a hard time shaking that feeling," he said.