Some Frequently Asked Questions from Teachers who Bring Students to Cry Innocent:
How long is the show?
The length of the show is about 45 minutes, give or take a few minutes based on the students’ questions.
What will my students do?
The students play the role of the jury in the case of accused witch, Bridget Bishop. In their capacity as jurors they are examining the accused, interrogating the accusers, testing Bridget’s ability to pass certain “witch tests” performed in the late medieval period, examining property owned by Bridget, reading documents aloud to their fellow jurors and voting on the outcome of the show–whether to send Bridget Bishop first to jail and then to a formal trial (as happened historically) or releasing her.
Do you do talkbacks?
In our off-season or when we travel to a school, teachers may request a post-show talk-back session (about 10-15 minutes) with the acting company, in which the students can interview the performers. Student questions range from what it’s like to be an actor, what Salem is like, what theories other audience members have, what the differences are between Arthur Miller’s The Crucible and the real history, etc.
What are the learning objectives?
The learning objectives, in addition to teaching about local history and America’s legal history, have to do with critical thinking and civil conversation. Different ages of students tend to focus on different aspects of the show. For example, younger students often want to know how a witness knows what they are saying is true and how a jury can believe one story over another. Older students often focus on more sophisticated ulterior motives, logical fallacies, the nature of mass hysteria, etc. The emphasis of the show can largely be set by the subject matter of interest to the group.
What other outcomes might be expected?
We find that the show especially resonates with teachers who are concerned with the effects of bullying or of marginalizing people with unpopular beliefs or lifestyles. There seems to be positive impact in schools where the negative effects of peer pressure are strong. The show, and the subject matter in general, is a great jumping off place for discussing the dangers of a group mentality and of scapegoating individuals.
Do you have any glossaries our students could use to prepare?
Yes! Please feel free to use the material here:
What resources do you recommend for learning more about the Salem Witchcraft hysteria?
For teaching our own cast about the 1692 ordeal, we use a variety of sources.
One of our favorite websites is the University of Virginia collection. http://salem.lib.virginia.edu/home.html
We also like this app by Dr. Emerson “Tad” Baker of Salem State University.
We have foreign language students accompanying our group. Can you help their understanding of what’s happening in the show?
We have guides in French, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Arabic and Mandarin. Let us know ahead of time and we’ll provide your group with copies.
Is there bus parking?
Our usual venue, The Old Town Hall, at 32 Derby Square, is only accessible to pedestrians. The best way for your group to access us is by departing a bus parked on the Salem Common or on Hawthorne Blvd and walking down Essex Street to Derby Square. Derby Square is located near the Washington Street end of the Essex Street Pedestrian Mall.
Is there a place to picnic nearby?
The Salem Common is a good place to picnic, as is Derby Wharf. Smaller groups might enjoy picnicking on the brick plateaus in Derby Square.
Is the Old Town Hall accessible to wheelchairs?
Yes, there is a ramp on the Essex Street side of the building and an elevator to the performance hall on the second floor.
Do you offer other programs?
We do! Our company has other shows on a variety of topics. We also custom create material for classrooms and events.
Can we connect more?
Many of our production staff have graduate degrees in education and classroom experience in a variety of settings. We are interested in hearing your thoughts, and where you feel your students could most benefit from curriculum tie-ins and enrichment.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org