John Proctor Is the Villain playwright Kimberly Belflower
Credit: Courtesy Studio Theatre

There’s no time like now to reexamine canonical classics such as Arthur Miller’s The Crucible in the wake of #MeToo and ongoing book wars. John Proctor Is the Villain is a play about a play, set in an Appalachian Georgia high school exploring power dynamics between teen girls and authority figures. The play was written after Kimberly Belflower delved into the women-centered history of the Salem witch trials around the time Tarana Burke’s Me Too movement went mainstream. For Belflower, the playwright, Miller’s allegorical depiction of the young women of Salem, who were “made out to be terrible, scheming harlots,” just didn’t add up when learning about the trauma they endured—almost all faced sexual abuse. In John Proctor, parallels between The Crucible and the Georgia teens’ world create turmoil in their rural town as they work on an English assignment, start a feminist club, and unmask town heroes. “At its core, it’s about a group of young women learning that they can write their own narratives and futures,” says Belflower. “That the things that are taught to them and prescribed to them are not necessarily written for them.” Belflower, a fast-talking feminist and former Gilmore Girls fan fiction writer, grew up in Appalachia. As someone who’s “allergic” to the antebellum Southern accent and helps collaborators ensure authenticity onstage, Belflower hopes audiences unfamiliar with rural Georgia see beyond the stereotype of the “slow, backward Southerner.” Belflower explains, “I grew up never really seeing where I come from reflected back to me in stories and just wanting people … to change that.” April 27 to June 5 at Studio Theatre, 1501 14th St. NW. $50-$95.

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