April 9th, 2015
Our upcoming production of Abigail/1702 is an imagined sequel to Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. The Miller Classic was a fictionalized account of the events surrounding the Salem Witch Trials, and this historic event has a direct influence on the context of Abigail/1702. The show’s time and place is Boston ten years after the trials and executions. This part of American history was highly influential on many aspects of how the U.S. governs today, and some background on it may give greater insight into our upcoming play.
The Salem Witch Trials occurred between February 1692 and May 1693. Approximately 100 years before the United States became a country, what is now considered the East Coast was at this time a collection of British colonies. Many of these residents were Puritans seeking religious freedom from England. The belief in Satan and the supernatural was common, so it was not rare to find peasants performing spells in hopes of prosperous crops and good fortune.
The trials in Salem were ignited by the peculiar behavior of Betty Parris and Abigail Williams (yes the same one who holds the name of our show’s title). Violent rage, the moaning of odd noises and the contortion of their bodies in unnatural ways were deemed to be the cause of possession by the devil and witchcraft. Other young girls began to show the same symptoms, and this mass hysteria led to a domino’s effect of one person accusing another of being a witch. All accusations had personal motives, but none were made with evidence or truth. The accused were essentially guilty until proven innocent, and none were found to be innocent.
Hearings before local magistrates took place, which resulted in the conviction and execution of 20 people, most of which were women. A further eight were condemned to prison, with four of them dying in prison.
It was a horrific and shameful series of events that have gone on to shape many of the tenets of American liberty. A strong example of mass hysteria, the Salem Witch Trials would be cited as a direct influence on the ideas of due process and false accusations.
Abigail/1702 happens ten years after the Salem Witch Trials, where Abigail is now living under a false name after having accused many of witchcraft, ultimately sending many to their death. Desperately seeking atonement, Abigail’s quest for redemption, while fictitious, is a fascinating look at what happens after events such as the Salem Witch Trials. Perhaps you should come find out.
Abigail/1702 runs April 29 – May 24. For tickets, please visit ww.internationalcitytheatre.org or call the ICT Box Office at 562.436.4610.