Letter to the Editor: the joy of “The Crucible”

There were no trees, no lights, no tinsel, no carolers, sleigh bells, angels or turkey dinners. No cards were exchanged. No midnight masses or last minute shopping trips. But it was Christmas, make no mistake.

My intention is not to slander Christmas, even though secular society has done much to malign the true meaning of the glorious miracle we celebrate each December. Rather, my intention is to tell you about my October Christmas. It occurred this past weekend, on Oct. 25, 2013. It was neither holy nor miraculous. Well, it might have been a little miraculous.

Do you remember the amazing excitement you felt upon seeing mounds of presents under the tree? Your fervent hope that the REALLY BIG BOX placed there might contain your special gift, the one you had been pining for since, you know, forever?

For me, the present came bundled up in the form of a play. The wrapping paper was dark and mysterious, almost threatening, and part of me did not want to open it. But the brave part of me, the curious part of me, the part of me that is inextricably woven into my soul knew that I had to open it; and I did so with gusto.

This gift was made manifest in the co-production by the Xavier University Theatre Program and the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company of Arthur Miller’s play, “The Crucible.” This was my REALLY BIG BOX, come to life on stage.

You may ask, “Why, Dr. Merrill, do you consider THAT to be Christmas?” I will tell you. It is because it took 182 years for Xavier University to give birth to a theatre major. In July of 2013, the Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre was born. As of October 2013, we now have 15 (15!) theatre majors. I could not hope for a better present.

Imagine that in whatever career you plan to enter, you suddenly become an integral part of that business. You rub shoulders with the CEO, the CFO, the HR director and the sales staff. This is the experience that the Xavier students who work and act in “The Crucible” are rewarded with by teaming with the professional director, designers and Equity actors of the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company.

So, I invite you to open my present. Yes, you have to pay for tickets. Yes, the tickets are “expensive.” For the same amount you would have to pay for three or four fancy drinks from Starbucks, or for one or two pitchers of beer, you may purchase a ticket for our production. You will not be disappointed, and hopefully you will be just as buzzed.

You will witness your Xavier student peers working and acting with professional actors. You will forget about time. You will get lost in the dramatic unfolding of the story. Ultimately, my hope is that you so admire and appreciate how our theatre majors have found personal connections to the events, people, places and stories in “The Crucible” that you find the inspiration to seek out your own similar connections.

Personally, I think it would be wicked awesome to watch the show on Halloween. Merry Christmas! –Dr. Tom Merrill, Chair of Xavier University Department of Music and Theatre

Performances of “The Crucible” continue this weekend, Oct. 31-Nov. 3. Tickets can be purchased online or at the Gallagher box office.