How do you captivate students (and enrich the learning experience) and still appeal to your general audience? It was a serious consideration for The Kavinoky Theatre this season. Both audiences are important: season subscribers and single ticket buyers are with you now, while today’s students are tomorrow’s patrons. The Kav addressed this by going back to basics with a 21st century twist: Arthur Miller’s classic American drama “The Crucible” will open at the Kav on Friday, November 3, and will include some dynamic multi-media elements created by video artist Brian Milbrand.
“We were looking to stage an American classic,” says the Kav’s managing director Loraine O’Donnell. “Education is part of our mission. ‘The Crucible’ is still widely taught, and is part of the Common Core. Bringing classes to the theatre helps teachers teach drama in another way. The teachers have a study guide to spark class discussion, and then seeing the production makes it come alive.” When classes visit the Kav on school time, the production is followed by a talk-back with the actors. “Kids are intuitive,” says O’Donnell. “They ask sophisticated questions, beyond things like ‘how do you learn your lines.’ Maybe that comes with being exposed to more theatre.”
“The video elements are woven into the production to help advance the story and establish time and place,” says O’Donnell. Students will connect with video, too, particularly visual learners who sometimes need more prompting to engage with reading-based studies.
The general audience is already familiar with the Kav’s creative use of video. Milbrand used stunning and powerful images in “Grounded,” the story of a fighter pilot on drone duty. Robert Waterhouse, director of “The Crucible,” saw the production and was inspired to integrate video into this production. Waterhouse also built a historical timeline against Miller’s account of the Salem witch trials to help draw the audience back to the 17th century.
O’Donnell says, “We’ve made our own world with the costume choices, inspired by Mennonite, Amish, and maybe some Islamic influences.” Blurring the lines (look carefully at the videos: you may see some intentional, contemporary flashes there) suggests that the story isn’t all history: perhaps in some isolated places in this world, this story is still emerging.
The Crucible will open at The Kavinoky Theatre November 3 and run through November 26, 2017. For more information, click here.
Promotional Consideration Paid For By The Theatre Alliance of Buffalo