Video of the Day: The Salem Witch Trials, as a Rock Opera
Michael Xavier knows you've heard the story of the Salem Witch Trials, and that you might even remember Abigail Williams, the young girl who first cried "witch." Something about this story is so resonant, Xavier says, "people seem to have a lot of ownership of it."
So when he talks about his company's first original rock opera, Abigail: The Salem Witch Trials/The Rock Opera, which he co-wrote and co-directs with Daniel Knop and Kurt Brown, he always has to explain that his show, while assiduously researched, is neither a historical bio-play nor a reimagining of Arthur Miller's The Crucible.
Rather, it's a story of "the personal redemption of a 12-year-old girl" who "denies what she's told is the best thing in life" -- Puritanism, of course. Xavier fills in gaps in our historical knowledge of Abigail (Casey Castille) by portraying her life before and after the trial, all to original music that's part Black Sabbath, part Beatles. Miller's version of the story was "brilliant," says Xavier, but he doesn't explore as thoroughly the fact that Abigail and her co-accusers were just kids: "What does anyone really know at 12?"
Abigail: The Salem Witch Trials/The Rock Opera starts at 9 p.m. on Nov. 23 (and continues through Dec. 15) at DanzHaus, 1275 Connecticut (at Cesar Chavez), S.F. Admission is $15.