EVANNA CHIEW — This is one of your Elizabeth Proctors speaking, currently in the thick of rehearsals for The Crucible! I was at rehearsal last Tuesday October 4th and we were in the midst of staging the court scene in Act III: this is where— spoiler alert!— John Proctor (Richard Petroski / Jose Anton Ramirez) ends up accused of witchcraft by Abigail Williams (Anne Marie MacIntosh / Ember Lanuti). I attended this rehearsal directly after a second year law class at the newly constructed UBC Law Building.
Going to the staging rehearsal for a trial scene after attending a law class was interesting for me because it almost made me feel guilty that I was participating in such a mockery of justice, pretending to be a witness while others pretended to be judges or clerks. Meanwhile, real students of law sit for hours in class and study for many more because they believe that the Law is worth studying and practicing. They become real lawyers and judges, who uphold the fundamental principles behind our justice system today.
And then it dawned on me that the trial scene we were staging is frighteningly close to what must’ve happened in real life — in the year 1692. What is known as the “trial scene” in The Crucible is no real trial at all, but a display of hysteria and human cruelty. Act III brings to attention the degree of selfishness that a man or woman is capable of achieving in order to get what he or she wants. “Crying witch” is not just an outdated, seventeenth-century notion: it happens every time someone is discriminated against or silenced for their individual beliefs and convictions. The power of The Crucible is that not that it is a documentation of a great tragedy in history but that it provides inspiration to act against the hundreds of large and small injustices that happen every day. This is what great opera and great storytelling can do.