Today is the 60th anniversary of Arthur Miller's seminal American play, "The Crucible," which opened on Broadway in 1953. The play is based on the Salem witch trials, but is, as Miller wrote in the New Yorker, "a reflection of the Communist witchhunts of its time."
"The Crucible" premiered at New York City's Martin Beck Theater, featuring Beatrice Straight as the formidable Elizabeth Proctor, Madeline Sherwood as Abigail Williams and Arthur Kennedy in the role of protagonist John Proctor. The work became famous not for its historical accuracy, but for its ability to address issues of morality and intolerance in the age of McCarthyism.
To honor anniversary of Miller's play, we have put together a slideshow of 10 things you didn't know about "The Crucible." Scroll through the slideshow below and let us know your thoughts on the American classic in the comments section.
The Play Originally Had A Different Title
"The Crucible" was initially called "The Chronicles of Sarah Good."
Jean-Paul Sartre Adapted The Play For Film
In 1958, "The Crucible" was adapted into a film by Jean-Paul Sartre called "Les Sorcières de Salem."
"The Crucible" Was Nominated For An Oscar
Miller's 1996 film adaptation of "The Crucible" earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Screenplay based on Previously Produced Material. This was sadly his only Oscar nod. IMAGE: Playwright Arthur Miller attends a ceremony at the Japan Art Association September 3, 2002 in New York City. Miller was presented with the 2001 Praemium Imperiale Award for lifetime achievement in theater. (Photo by Mario Tama/Gettty Images)
"The Crucible" Was Also Adapted For The Opera
"The Crucible" was also adapted for the opera by composer Robert Ward. The operatic performance was performed in 1961 and received the Pulitzer Prize for music a year later.
Miller Based His Character's Speech Off The King James Bible
Miller drew on the rhythms and speech patterns of the King James Bible in order to recreate the historical perspective he sought. IMAGE: The 400 year old King James Bible on display in Lambeth Palace Library on May 25, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images)
Abigail Williams' Historical Counterpart Was Much Younger
Though Miller's characters are not entirely based on historical figures, he did pull names from surviving records of the Salem Witch trials. One of those names -- Abigail Williams -- belonged to an 11-year-old girl. The Abigail in Miller's play is 17 so that she could engage in a relationship with John Proctor.
Danforth Is Based On McCarthyite Political Figures
The character of Deputy Governor Thomas Danforth is loosely based on a real historical figure who participated in (and was later critical of) the Salem witch trials. However, the Danforth of "The Crucible" is thought to reflect characteristics of a number of Salem judges and is likely more reminiscent of Miller's take on McCarthyite politicians.
There Are Deleted Scenes
A scene in the second act, which appeared in the original production of the play, was removed from many productions. What happens: Proctor meets Abigail in the woods, where she unsuccessfully attempts to win him back. (Tragedy!) In many printed version of the play, this scene has been added as an appendix. Image: <a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/0822202557/ref=rdr_ext_tmb">Amazon</a>
Miller Was Investigated By The FBI After Writing The Play
Years after writing "The Crucible," a play that was openly critical of the McCarthy-era government, Miller was questioned by the House of Representatives' Committee on Un-American Activities and in <a href="http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/story?section=news/national_world&id=4289750">1956 was convicted of "contempt of Congress"</a> for refusing to identify members of the Communist Party. IMAGE: This file copy of a document, obtained by The Associated Press through the Freedom of Information Act, from playwright Arthur Miller's FBI file, shows an FBI report stating, that "the New York Daily News received an anonymous telephone call" on July 3, 1956. The caller, "an unidentified male," stated that "Arthur Miller had been and still was a member of the CP (Communist Party) and was their cultural front man" and that (his wife) "Marilyn Monroe" also "had drifted into the Communist orbit." The file revealed that Miller had been the subject of FBI surveillance for a long time. In late 2012, the FBI has released a new version of files it kept on Marilyn Monroe that reveal the names of some of her acquaintances who had drawn concern from government officials and members of her entourage over their suspected ties to communism. (AP Photo/FBI, File)
Miller Was Sentenced To 30 Days And $500
Miller was sentenced to 30 days in prison and forced to pay $500 in fines for his alleged Communist leanings. IMAGE: Undated portrait of American writer Arthur Miller. Born in 1915 in New York, Miller achieved recognition with 'All my Sons' (1947) and won the Pulitzer Prize with 'Death of a Salesman' in 1949, bringing him international fame. Miller was married to the celebrated actress Marilyn Monroe from 1956 to 1961. (Photo credit should read AFP/AFP/Getty Images)
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