Part ritual, part musical, Salem tells the story of the Salem witch trials in a series of tableaus – each corresponding both to a key moment in the witch trials, and to a point on the Wiccan wheel of the year. Rather than concoct a story based on the trials, or do something like The Crucible: The Musical, I wanted the piece to focus on the emotional underpinnings of the events. As the points made are more emotional than specific, the songs have different functions depending on what the particular moment called for. Sometimes the songs function more like pop songs – almost as if it’s a modern interpretation of the emotion of the event. Other times, the characters sing as themselves – closer to a traditional musical. Other times it’s somewhere in between. The language is always modern.
My hope is that by focusing on the underlying emotions of the story, a story which most people at least have a rough understanding of, it will allow the audience to internalize the story in a new way and not only understand what it must have been like to have lived through it, but draw parallels to today. I wanted to create something of a mosaic that's slowly pieced together over the course of the evening.
The thing that struck me about the witch trials was that every key player could be put into one of two categories: those who gave up their core values and those who didn’t – even in the face of insurmountable odds. And so the key question that this piece asks is: how do you maintain yourself, and not compromise your core values, when facing large scale societal adversity?