The Crucible

Sheffield Theatres, 2024

The brief: In Miller’s gripping masterpiece based on the events of the infamous Salem witch trials, a group of young girls are accused of witchcraft after being discovered dancing and chanting in the forest at night. With the threat of execution hanging over them, the girls, led by the fierce Abigail, who has been recently dismissed from working for John and Elizabeth Proctor, start accusing other townspeople of having placed a curse on them – drawing the community into a world of paranoia, lies and manipulation where the only goal is self-preservation.

Abigail’s thirst for vengeance wreaks havoc on the village ruining lives, but also the farmers’ livestock. With so many of them in jail, the cows wander the high roads, crying to be milked. I was fascinated to hear from director Anthony Law that the cows had been brought over from Europe by the settlers, who at the time of the events of Salem, have only been in America for two to three generations – meaning the impending deaths of the abandoned livestock will bring more hardship to the community.

The concept for the artwork shows Abigail on a kitchen table, after having deliberately pushed a glass bottle of milk on the floor – the spilled liquid leaving a big stain on the floor, a metaphor for the destruction caused by her anger and recklessness.

Photography by Sebastian Nevols