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An interactive theatre experience based on the Salem Witch trials

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The generation that came from England to Salem believed the English Church had slipped into decadence. They had tried—and failed—to purify the Church from within, and now were in search of refuge. They wanted not for religious freedom, but to establish an order closer to God.

 

They crossed the Great Western Ocean and arrived, a new and unwelcome people in an old world. They left the port and continued one day’s ride, to the edge of a wild walnut grove and vast wilderness beyond. They did not trouble themselves with who or what came before. Here a small group of pious families laid claim to their destiny on stolen land, forging a new community devoted to humility and worship.

 

Their creed forbade anything resembling a theater or “vain enjoyment” —they did not even celebrate Christmas, and a holiday from work meant only that they must concentrate on prayer. Their self-denial, their purposefulness, their suspicion of all idle pursuits, and their hard-handed justice were altogether perfect instruments for the task God gave them. They believed they held in their steady hands the candle that would light the world.

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Those were your parents and grandparents, the first saints of Salem. You do not share their ocean-crossing conviction. You were born here, and a vast differentiation has taken place. Gone is the unity and purity of purpose that defined the first settlers. There has been a visible decay of Godliness, the most obvious of which are profaneness, excessive pride, and covetousness of wealth. Even Sabbath-breaking does plague the town. Now two-man patrols walk forth in the time of God’s worship, taking notice of such that either lye about the meetinghouse, without attending the words and ordinances, or lye at home or in the field without giving good account thereof, and to take the names of such persons and present them to the judge.

Salem’s people have always had a predilection for minding each other's business that does not stop at sabbath patrol. Folks in Salem honor the tradition of keeping tabs on their neighbors, and many would say it is their duty by God to be thy brother’s keeper. For all you know about your neighbor’s hithers and tithers, you know little else. The land you stand on is a mystery to you. Good soil has turned sour. Dry summers choke the livestock, and harsh winters take the children. With all the loss and confusion come strange and twisted rumors: Things half-seen in moonlight, wretched acts committed in secret, sounds coming from the trees. 

 

The edge of the wilderness is close by. It stands, dark and threatening. Folks whisper that the untouched forest is the Devil’s last preserve, his home base, and the citadel of his final stand. Folks whisper that the Devil grows stronger, that he may have help. What will you do?  You’ll need hard study if it comes to tracking the Old Boy. You cannot look to superstition in this. The Devil’s marks are as definite as stone. Who in Salem Village has the bruise of Hell upon them? 

 

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