AHS English students quiz actress over Crucible role

Secondary 5 pupils from the Anderson High School who are studying Arthur Miller’s The Crucible for their Higher English qualification have been given the chance to interview one of the stars of a live production of the play.

A live screening of a performance of the classic tale based around the Salem witch trials will be screened in Mareel this weekend, starring Richard Armitage (The Hobbit). In collaboration with promotion company Cinemalive, Shetland Arts offered the excited pupils the chance to ask Armitage’s fellow performer Marama Corlett, who plays Betty Parris, about her involvement.

Michael Thomas and Marama Corlett in The Crucible.
Michael Thomas and Marama Corlett in The Crucible.

Q) Do you feel the play has something to teach modern society?
A) The Crucible is essentially a play about what humans are truly capable of doing to each other, a reminder in a way. Although set in 1692 it draws parallels to today’s world encompassing our relationships with one another in time of complete madness and turmoil. It’s a timeless piece that resonates with any person reading or watching it. I believe it will continue to affect us for years to come.

Q) Is it emotional trying to act in such a horrific tale, especially since it is based on real events?
A) It’s an absolutely heartbreaking story and extremely excruciating to watch. It was hard at times to fight the emotions. It grabs your heart from the very first scene. Choosing to live the story or better being chosen to recreate these characters, I personally found a certain unconditional love and appreciation for my character. As an audience you want to reach out to them and hug them, you want them to make better choices, you want them to live but as an actor you sort of accept their journey and respect it and then everything starts to happen and they live again. Like an ancestor or a lost loved one I think of Betty from time to time.

Q) How did you get into the mindset of playing Betty?
A) Our director Yaël Farber wanted to explore the physicality of the characters. Betty is believed to be possessed by the devil at the start of the play and we experimented with different types of body contortions, playing around with different, strange unnatural movements. As a company we became united, spending long hours in the rehearsal room finding our characters and the right pace for the play. Once you do your homework and rehearsals it becomes almost natural to get into the mind set of Betty.

Q) Do you think the character of Betty, and the rest of the girls, set out at the beginning to intentionally hurt as many people as they did?
A) These children lived under extreme fear, restricted and suppressed by their society and belief system. Truly I believe they longed for love and understanding. One event which most probably started out as a innocent longing for freedom was quickly misunderstood and shadowed by fear and ignorance. I believe nothing was done intentionally. It felt like we took one breath at the start and only exhaled at the very end. A situation that got out of control.

Q) What was it like being involved in such a major production?
A) We have been so happy and humbled by the reviews and the many people that made the performances or are now watching it at the cinema. Yael Farber’s direction and Arthur Miller’s genius writing have together created a very beautiful visceral piece. It’s a very special play and each and every actor brought something unique and beautiful to their performances. It’s been a wonderful journey and I am truly grateful to be one of the story tellers.

• The Old Vic’s The Crucible is showing at Mareel on Sunday afternoon.


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