Thought-provoking themes tackled by Perse actors in Year 11 play

Perse Year 11 actors took on questions of gender, inequality and protest in their production of Witches Can’t Be Burned.

The play, by Silva Semerciyan, was based around a performance of Arthur Miller’s renowned work The Crucible – a fictionalised representation of the 17th Century Salem Witch Trials – by a school drama company.

However, the main actor begins to ask questions about the portrayal of women in Miller’s play, and institutional inequality more widely, leading to clashes with the school authorities that see her undergo a disciplinary procedure which takes on the reflection of a ‘witch-hunt’.

Drama teacher George Smith, who directed Witches Can’t Be Burned, was delighted with how the cast had thrown themselves into the production, having only begun rehearsals at the start of term.

He said: “They were challenging themes for the cast to take on, but they were excellent. This was a play from the National Theatre’s Connections programme, which commissions playwrights to produce plays specifically for young people that deal with issues relevant to their age, so it felt like a perfect fit.

“The maturity with which they approached it was amazing. It wasn’t just hard work and talent, they were thoughtful and politically engaged, and to do all this in four weeks, I’m really proud of them.”

Mr Smith added that the cast had enjoyed being able to tread the boards in the Peter Hall Performing Arts Centre in front of a live audience.

He said: “It was really nice to be able to put a performance back on stage with students after a long time away and it was great for Year 11 to be able to put on a play early in the year before there are more demands on their time.”

It was really nice to be able to put a performance back on stage with students after a long time away and it was great for Year 11 to be able to put on a play early in the year before there are more demands on their time.

George Smith, Drama teacher

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