Interview: Jean Toh for The Crucible

How does it feel to be the antagonist of the show?
It can be very stressful to be an antagonist coming up against so many protagonists in a multi-layered drama like The Crucible. However, I love the liberty I am given to explore psychotic, morally-questionable characters that force me to think from a different, almost deviant perspective. I find enjoyment from creating a genuine interpretation of any character, regardless of whether they are “good” or “bad”. But generally the “bad” ones are more fun.

If you weren’t playing Abigail, which role would you want?
Elizabeth Proctor. I think she is the biggest protagonist in the play. I feel her character truly captures the zeitgeist of our generation as well as the victims of McCarthyism who experienced grave suffering and oppression in the 1950s, inspiring Miller to write The Crucible. Elizabeth Proctor is definitely a great role that many actresses have sought after.

What’s the most challenging part of playing Abigail?
It has to be standing by and defending my character without judgment, and bringing myself to question my own preconceived notions of good and evil.

What drew you to the role?
I was drawn to Abigail’s obsession with love.

What do you think motivates Abigail?
I think John Proctor is a key figure in motivating Abigail to accuse innocent villagers of witchcraft. I also believe that he triggers most of Abigail’s insanity. She is relentlessness in her warped “love” for him and belief that her accusations and playacting will help John find his true self. However, the town’s emotional response of delirious hysteria and hyper-disillusionment also feeds and encourages Abigail to abuse her power to a state of no return.

Jean Toh performs in The Crucible on February 7-23 at The Drama Centre.