, Salem, MA


July 10, 2013

Our view: Congratulations to one of Salem’s best

Salem’s tourist attractions may range from the cheesy to the sublime, but one of the best, hands down, is “Cry Innocent.”

So, it is a pleasure to wish a “happy birthday” to the writer, producers, cast and crew as they enter their 21st year in the city.

This production draws in bystanders from the moment the actors, dressed as Salem villagers in 1692, begin dragging Bridget Bishop through the streets of Salem to Old Town Hall, where she will be tried for witchcraft. Audiences become part of the trial, posing questions to prosecutors and learning, in the process, all about things like spectral evidence. At the end, it is the audience who votes to condemn or free the accused.

Aptly named History Alive, a branch of the Gordon College theater arts department, produces the interactive shows in Salem, often using student actors — but there’s nothing amateur about this spectacle. It’s both entertaining and absorbing, even if you think you already have more exposure than you need to Salem and its infamous witchcraft trials.

The news that writer Mark Stevick, the Gordon College professor who wrote the play, has written a film version in honor of the show’s 21st year — it opened in 1992 — is welcome. The film will be sold as a souvenir and a teaching tool in classrooms.

Here’s hoping “Cry Innocent” and its unique blend of entertainment and education will continue here for many years to come.

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