Salempost 3: The Rev. Hale

I have found myself drawn down deeply into the life-altering journey of the Reverend John Hale of Beverly of The Crucible. I wonder sometimes if my not being able to go to meeting for worship has shifted my spiritual longing on to him. I have found myself fighting for choices in rehearsal with an energy I haven’t felt in a while. These debates revolve mainly around the last scene of the play in which Hale, having denounced the court and after going into what I imagine to be three months of spiritual retreat, comes back to try and convince those in the jail to lie and “confess” in order to spare their lives. I am interested in presenting a shattered man, whose absolutist and idealistic spiritual world view has been blown apart, and who is groping for meaning in a new world in which faith is mixed with doubt. I also sense that he feels deeply betrayed by Danforth, the strict judge in who’s court he convinces his Salem friends to put their faith, only to watch them bound for the gallows one by one. This has led me to confrontational choices in that final scene, and choices which are out of character for the Puritan social mores of the time. I had him enter and sit on his butt on the floor, for instance, exhausted and despondent at not being able to garner a single confession after a whole night’s striving. David was interested in something else, some not quite so “weirdish” – to borrow a term from the play. The conversations we have had have been robust and probing, and have included the others actors present. Their clear opinions and thoughtful observations have made me re-think my position that we don’t have as many “thinking actors” in America as Britain. Perhaps it’s just that not many publish books.