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Community Theatre League to open season with iconic Arthur Miller play

The year is 1692 at Williamsport’s Community Theatre League, 100 W. Third St., and a witch hunt is underway – the theater will open its 40th season with Arthur Miller’s iconic play “The Crucible.”

On the surface a play about the Salem Witch Trials, “The Crucible” was written at a time in history when Miller and other creative artists were being investigated as Communist sympathizers by Senator Joseph McCarthy. Because of the prevalence of hysteria, mob mentality and logical fallacies, “The Crucible” remains a popular choice for classroom study and stage performance.

Director Bernadette Haas Jones has been involved in theater for more than 40 years. A Williamsport native, Haas Jones studied theater at Bloomsburg University and with Jim Symmons at the Williamsport Drama Workshop. She worked for several semi-professional and professional theater companies in central Pennsylvania before marrying her husband, Bob, who also is involved in theater. Haas Jones’s daughter, Sara, will serve as stage manager for the production.

“The first time I directed at CTL was in 1988, and have done so several times since. I was actually in the first production at the Washington Boulevard location,” Haas Jones said.

Haas Jones believes that “The Crucible” remains timely and relevant.

“Society today cries out essentially anything and hysteria is created, fingers get pointed,” she said. “The cast and I are very focused on the actual history of these characters and that town, including probable causes of the girls’ hysteria.”

Kahlie DeHotman plays the role of Elizabeth Proctor, whose husband John becomes accused of witchcraft after an affair with the young Abigail Williams goes awry.

“I auditioned for ‘The Crucible’ because I try to take every opportunity I can to work on my craft and this show seemed like a particularly good possibility for growth,” DeHotman said. ” ‘The Crucible’ is one of my favorite plays because I’ve always been fascinated by the events of the Salem Witch Trials and the themes of dehumanization and subjective morality. It’s a very relevant play as these themes are so present in our current social and political climate.”

“Elizabeth is a marvelously complex character and I adore her. Just about every character in ‘The Crucible’ goes through an internal whirlwind over the course of the play but Elizabeth is especially emotionally elusive,” DeHotman continued. “She is a very real person (I mean, besides the fact that she was an actual person). I love the challenge of puzzling through a difficult character as well as striking the necessary balance between a very realistic portrayal, and the larger than life performance necessary to communicate the thoughts of that character.”

DeHotman has been seen on the stage of CTL most recently in last season’s “Belles” and “The Game’s Afoot.” A Messiah College graduate, DeHotman said, “I strongly support community theater in general, but CTL holds a very special place in my heart. This will be my fifth show at CTL, and I can happily say that the company has only gotten better with time. The theater is a safe place where anyone can go to find community and broaden their horizons. Kids and adults alike can find fun, friendship, and learning in a totally judgement-free zone. It’s theater as it should be.”

CTL newcomer Justin Moore plays opposite DeHotman as John Proctor.

“This is my first show with CTL. I wanted to audition because some of my cast mates from previous shows had worked at CTL and lauded how positive of an experience it was,” he said.

Moore chose to audition for “The Crucible” specifically because he believes it to be a seminal piece of American drama, and he wanted to be tested as an actor. “I hope to gain a more personal knowledge of the history of the play, and of American drama in general,” Moore said.

“The Crucible” has showings at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 16-17 and 22-24 and 2 p.m. Sept. 25. Tickets and more information are available at www.ctlshows.com.