1953 January 22

“The Crucible” Opens in New York; Playwright Arthur Miller’s Cold War Statement


Arthur Miller is regarded as one of America’s greatest playwrights. His play The Crucible, which opened on this day in New York City, is a retelling of the famous Salem, Massachusetts Witch Trials (June 10, 1692). Miller wrote the play as an allegory of the Cold War anti-Communist “witch hunt.”

Miller himself was called before the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) on June 21, 1956, and refused to name names, claiming First Amendment protection. He was convicted of contempt of Congress on May 31, 1957, but his conviction was later overturned. In response to Miller’s play, Eliza Kazan, Miller’s former friend and artistic collaborator, directed the film On the Waterfront (released on July 28, 1954). Unlike Miller, Kazan cooperated with HUAC and “named names” of Communist Party members he had known.

Read (or see) the play: Arthur Miller, The Crucible (1953)

See the 1996 film version with Daniel Day Lewis and Joan Allen: The Crucible (1996)

Read Miller’s autobiography: Arthur Miller, Timebends: A Life (1987)

Watch an interview with Arthur Miller discussing writing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AckMkV0AFEI

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