chapter  5
22 Pages

Performing Human: The Socìetas Raffaello Sanzio

In a performance piece that ended its life with a ‘cease and desist’ order from Arthur Miller’s lawyers, New York performance company the Wooster Group performed moments, lines and fragments from The Crucible. They performed them sitting behind a table and in a trough beneath it, in period costume and modern dress, with and without microphones, in blackface, in imitation of themselves rehearsing The Crucible on LSD. LSD…Just the High Points was not a production of The Crucible. It interwove its chosen moments from Miller’s play with random readings from the writings of Timothy Leary and friends, an interview with Timothy Leary’s babysitter, some dance sequences, some quotations from a touring debate between Leary and G.Gordon Liddy. Miller feared that the piece would compromise a Broadway production of The Crucible, might be seen as a parody of The Crucible and decided that ultimately he did not want to see The Crucible used in ways other than stipulated in and suggested by the play he had written. To the company, and to David Savran who wrote extensively and supportively of the company’s work during the 1970s and 1980s, LSD was no parody of the Miller play.1 However, LSD staged readings of The Crucible that were in excess of Miller’s intention, pointing to the cultural and political contexts in which he wrote it and putting in heavy quotation marks the naturalistic acting style the play text requires in performance. In LSD, Willem Dafoe breaks down weeping as John Proctor, and before he does so, famously puts glycerine in his eyes to represent tears.