January 12, 2019

The earthly afterlife of Abigail Williams,the primary accuser at the Salem Witchcraft Trials, is explored in the play “Abigail,1702: A Twice-Told Tale.”Written by Nicaraguan Roberto Aguirre Sacasa, who besides being a playwright, writes screenplays and comic books, picks up where Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible”leaves off.

Award-Winning Stage Set for
Abigail, 1702: A Twice-Told Tale
Winter Production for Amarillo College
Used by Permission

The subject is audaceous and so was the decision of the AC Theatre Department to stage the work. Consequentially the production received from the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival three Irene Ryan acting nominations, three Meritorious Awards for design, and is being considered for the KCACTH Regional in February. 

These accolades were highly deserved. The script asks a lot of mature actors, but to expect dramatis personae barely out of their teens to perform at this advanced level shows not only their tremendous talent but also astute direction.

And, it shows something else about the directors: Monty and Ray are not afraid to roll the dice and ask the seemingly impossible of their players, who responded in turn, incredibly. May the directors, the student actors and the school continue to push the limits of the possible, challenging audiences to leave the comfort zone

But wait, this is Cowboy Country! What’s all this about high-fallutin’ drama? Cowboy Country, yes, and Amarillo yes, where the unexpected in the arts is the norm.

Two other thoughts about the actors. In this play the stage becomes a character. The stark, barren tree trunks light up with kaledoscopic effect to show the presence of the devil. And the devil, as a character, speaks a fluent Puritan patois.After all, in early 18th century New England, Satan was a lively presence, and the stage and actor magnify that presence with Luciferian force.

And, perhaps it was the script, but one wishes to hear seomthing other than Mea Culpa’s and witness beatified behavior from Abigail, before she reclaims her humanity by falling in love and then redeeming her soul.

That’s quibbling, a criticism more of the playwright than the portrayer. This production is a winner, worthy of national consideration, and the AC fanbase can have every hope that the play will advance at the Kennedy Center Regionals.

The quality theatre available at our community college is but another reason we can assert: “Keep Amarillo Artsy! Keep Austin Weird! Keep Lubbock in the Rear View Mirror!!!!!”

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