Great words conjure up great images. And The Crucible is nothing if not a master class in playwriting. Miller’s text ignites with its mix of magic, hysteria, and faith.
“There is prodigious fear in seeking loose spirits”
“I cannot sleep for dreaming; I cannot dream but I wake and walk about the house as though I’d find you comin’ through the door.”
“Let either of you breathe a word, or the edge of a word, about the other things, and I will come to you in the black of some terrible night and I will bring a pointy reckoning that will shudder you.”
“A child’s spirit is like a child, you can never catch it by running after it; you must stand still, and, for love, it will soon itself come back.”
“it’s the proper morning to fly into Hell.”
“Until an hour before the Devil fell, God thought him beautiful in Heaven.”
“Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life! Because I lie and sign myself to lies! Because I am not worth the dust on the feet of them that hang! How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name!”
On director Elia Kazan (acclaimed stage and film director of successes such as A Streetcar Named Desire, Death of a Salesman, and On the Waterfront):
“Stimulation and dissimulation were his twin talents. ‘He would send one actor to listen to a particular piece of jazz, another a certain novel, another to see a psychiatrist, and another he would simply kiss,’ [Arthur] Miller recalled. During rehearsals, according to Miller, Kazan ‘grinned a lot but said as little as possible.’
‘Instinctively, when he had something important to tell an actor, he would huddle with him privately rather than instruct before the others, sensing that anything that really penetrates is always to some degree an embarrassment…A mystery grew up around what he might be thinking, and this threw the actor back upon himself.’ Kazan’s trick was to make his own ideas seem like the actors’ discoveries. ‘He let the actors to excite themselves with their own discoveries, which they would carry back to him like children offering some found object back to a parent.’
– Kazan on Directing, Foreward by John Lahr
This book was one of my Christmas gifts this year and I’m loving it. Recommended reading for those looking for insight into one of the great director’s methods.