John Proctor is the Villain: A Play to Solve Issues of Today

“John Proctor is the Villain” is a new play that was written by Kimberly Belflower with The Farm Theater in New York. The Furman University Theater Department had the honor of performing this play on April 9th through the 14th of this year. 

Furman’s Theater Department played a role in the writing of this play along with several other schools. The goal of this collaboration was to connect playwrights with college students to develop culturally relevant plays. Furman students were an essential role in the creation and drafting of the play in 2018. Ms. Belflower even came to a rehearsal and made rewrites as the cast performed for her; this play was a unique experience to show how a play can evolve. 

The cast includes Furman’s own: 

Patrick Fretwell as Mr. Smith

Anne Morgan as Raelynn

Becca Hearn as Beth

Elizabeth Collins as Nell

Morgan Goldsberry as Ivy

Karsen Green and Cammi Stilwell (understudy) as Shelby

Derek Leonard and Dan Marino (understudy) as Mason

Matt Middleton and Aaron Prince (understudy) as Lee

Tess Kamody as Miss Gallagher

Ensemble members include Benjamin Connelly, Loni Covington, Emily Enlow, Annalise Harris, Clare Beth McConnell and Dasya’ Young.

The play is set in a rural town in Georgia. The main characters are members of an english class that is reading “The Crucible”. The main characters are five female students. Throughout the play these friendships are tested by unforeseeable circumstances.  Each of the main character’s support systems are tested by a father being accused of sexual assault as well as a friend claiming that she was taken advantage of. The girls are forced to decide who they believe and who they really trust. 

I attended the play on opening night with no ideas as to the ideas and social issues that would be addressed, but I was blown away by the magnitude of issues addressed. There was support for female empowerment and connections to the #MeToo movement that is sweeping the globe today. 

The stage set up and costumes are quite innovative. The performance took place in Furman’s Playhouse, which consists of a small stage with three of four rows of inclined seats surrounding three fourths of the stage. The set consisted of plywood framing of a classroom with a door and movable desks and seats. 

This setup allowed the audience to have an inside glimpse at some of the characters emotions because behind the back frame there was a hallway type area with a spotlight. This allowed characters exit the main room without exiting the stage. Several times, characters would pause under the spotlight to cry or think. This allowed even the tough characters to reveal their true feelings and frustrations. 

The costumes were used to show the level of social awareness of the characters. At the start of the play, all of the characters were wearing black and white. One character, Nell, had some red on her shirt representing that she was more aware than some of the others. As the play progresses more and more people add red or orange to their costume, showing that they know what is going on and are prepared to take a stand. 

Theater is a very powerful tool to inform the public about current social issues. I think that the initiative taken on by the Farm Theater and universities has an immense amount of potential to make a difference and incite change. Passivity when it comes to issues, especially sexual assault and harassment, is not a solution! “John Proctor is the Villain” encourages action, and that if why it left such a lasting impression with its audience. 

If you ever get the chance to see this play, it is one that you do not want to miss!