By: Bailey Mruzik
The Adrian College Theater Program is preparing to bring yet another production to campus on November 17th. This time, teleporting viewers back to the year 1702.
Directed by Joe Zettelmaier, students have been rehearsing to bring its audience a rendition of Abigail/1702, which is a spinoff of an Arthur Miller classic, The Crucible. The award-winning 1953 production is set during the Salem Witch Trials. Its characters are based on real historical figures.
Taking place during the time of the trials in 1692 in Salem, Massachusetts, The Crucible tells the story of a group of young women who falsely accuse other villagers of witchcraft. One important character in the production is Abigail Williams, the lead accuser.
Described by Miller as a “strikingly beautiful girl,” Abigail has unique relationships with many characters, one of which being the former servant of John and Elizabeth Proctor. It is revealed that Abigail had an affair with John. Following this, a mutual hate between her and Elizabeth grows. Eventually, Abigail accuses Elizabeth of being a witch, creating on-stage action and drama.
Abigail/1702, created by playwright Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and brought right here to Adrian, catches up with Abigail 10 years in the future. Being the center of the play, she has changed her name and moved into a small cottage on the outskirts of Boston.
Abigail’s life doesn’t look all that bad. She has begun her new career as a healer, growing her own organic herbs. Although, it is shown that she carries guilt and trauma from her past.
One day, a sick sailor named John Brown arrives at her door, and she nurses him back to health. A romance develops between the two, and he reveals that he too has a heavy past.
The pair’s relationship grows while something new emerges in Abigail’s life- the Devil, who comes for her soul. She must fight this presence while making peace with Elizabeth Proctor.
Played by Adrian College Senior Maryssa McNamara, Abigail Williams is still known to be the same immoral character she is in The Crucible. Yet, she looks for forgiveness and strives to move on from what used to be.
“Her past is not something to be proud of,” McNamara said. “Whether or not she deserves forgiveness is up for debate. I think we can all relate to being haunted by past mistakes, and how hard we work to earn redemption.”
This shows that the audience can prepare for a dive into relatable human stories in addition to the entertainment factor.
Romance is another characteristic of this historical production. For obvious reasons, COVID-19 has hindered many of the romantic gestures able to be expressed. However, the actors assure there will be no shortage of love- it will just be shown in different ways.
“There are adjustments that need to be made, but we have been very respectful and honest with each other about levels of comfort,” McNamara said. “What is great about this story is that the development of love can be told from a distance. There are ways to develop a romantic connection that don’t rely on physical touch.”
Abigail treats several patients throughout the play, one of them being John Brown, and another a young boy named Thomas.
Thomas is the play’s only innocent character, forming a relationship with Abigail.
Played by Adrian student Quinn Davison, Thomas brings a sense of innocence and childhood memories to the audience.
“I hope the audience takes a sense of light from Thomas,” Davison said. “He truly is the only innocent character in this play. I hope the audience sees this and realizes how much joy Thomas brought to Abigail.”
Another important character can be found in Adrian College Junior Kharyzma Williams. She plays Elizabeth Proctor, Abigail’s enemy. Williams wants the audience to know there is another relatable story to be taken from Elizabeth’s journey.
“I hope they [the audience] see a woman who is hurting and finally getting to say her peace. We have all been in that situation where you just wanted the person who hurt you to know what they did. Elizabeth gets to tell her abuser exactly how she feels and it’s beautiful.”
There are numerous students in the Adrian theater department taking part in backstage and on-stage work, but a play can never be put on without a director.
To help the play come to life, Adrian theater professor Joe Zettelmaier says he has taken on this play with his own interests in mind.
“I’m really drawn to stories with horror elements and more importantly, stories with a redemption theme. I’m also a sucker for American history, so this was right up my alley.”
He plans to create the costumes and set to be representative of the time period in which it takes place.
“The set is very striking. As soon as you see it, you get a sense of the era, and the fact that the play is much more representational than realistic. It’s inherently spooky and autumnal.”
Zettelmaier is excited for the audience to be transported back in time and experience a “pre-America America.”
He mentions the story will be filled with “Chills, thrills, romance, and a deeply beautiful human story,” one that viewers will be captivated by.
Abigail/1702 will be shown in the Downs Hall theater from November 17-19th at 7:30 p.m. and November 20th at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 each and can be purchased at the door and/or reserved in advance by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.