Robert Ketton was educated at The King's School Tynemouth and Newcastle upon Tyne University where he studied Drama in Education under the legendary Dorothy Heathcote and later acting at the Burton School of Speech and Drama. He was appointed as inaugural theatre teacher at Burton on Trent Grammar School and subsequently was made Head of Drama at Foxhills Comprehensive School in Lincolnshire. In 1974, Robert migrated to Australia where he helped introduce Theatre into Queensland Secondary schools by assisting in writing the initial syllabus.
In 1976, he was appointed lecturer in Theatre in Education at DDIAE (now University of Southern Queensland) where, in 1992 he was made Senior Lecturer in Acting. Robert has written some dozen plays, published collaboratively eight books, directed over 25 major stage productions.
Earlier this year, Robert acted as script consultant on So I am Born a musical by Dan Moran which premiered in July to great acclaim in Mackay. He is currently working on the film Tightrope, a Queensland Police initiative aimed at road accident prevention.
Interview with Dramaturge
Elle - What is your vision for The Crucible?
Robert - The Crucible is first and foremost a teaching production for second year acting students. The characters in The Crucible are a rich and complex group of people, so the challenge for the actors is to play roles of people who are out of their age group and from a different cultural context. It is an exciting process for me to watch. The audience will be challenged by the fact that small domestic issues can, quite unintentionally, ultimately have huge ramifications.
Elle - What do you consider to be the main themes in this play, and do you consider the themes in The Crucible to have relevance to issues that are evolving in the world today?
Robert - Injustice and the tension between individual freedom verses authority. On a human scale it is about trust in relationships and how the breakdown of a relationship can lead to unforeseen circumstances.
I think we are constantly inventing enemies for ourselves. We are always looking for things that are not there. Look at how we invaded Iraq looking for weapons of mass destruction. Looking for these weapons is like looking for witchcraft. Some people of Salem wanted to confront John Proctor. Had Abigail not moved into the Proctor's home, well 'would the events have taken place at all?'.
Elle - The Crucible is performed over and over again, what do you believe the play owes its enduring appeal to?
Robert - The themes in The Crucible are universal and timeless. Infidelity, injustice, persecution, dogma are, and probably always will be, a part of human nature.
Elle - How do you direct your actors to take on the mindset and attitudes of the Puritans?
Robert - This play has so many strengths. It is not a cliché and the characters are not caricatures. The characters a very real people and there are elements of us all in the people on the stage. The trick is finding those elements. The actors in The Crucible are young. It is the development of their observations and thoughts about the issues that will inform their performance. The skill for the actors is finding those elements within themselves.
Elle - Why is this such an important play for any one studying drama, American History or Law to see?
Robert There are very few modern plays that are enduring because, very often, a play deals with topical issue but because this play deals with universal themes and concerns it speaks to every generation. I couldn't say for sure, but I would warrant a guess that this play will still be being performed in two hundred years time.