March 09, 2023
Broadway Licensing is pleased to announce its acquisition of the highly-anticipated play, “John Proctor Is the Villain” by playwright Kimberly Belflower for live stage performance rights. In conjunction, The Huntington, Boston’s leading professional theatre, is thrilled to publicize that it will include the thought-provoking, funny new play in its 23/24 season.
The universally appealing and impactful play was first commissioned by The Farm Theater in 2017 and workshopped there in 2018 and at Ojai Playwrights Conference in 2019, “John Proctor Is the Villain” was staged at Centre College in 2018, at Furman University and Rollins College in 2019, and professionally at DC’s Studio Theatre in 2022.
“We are humbled and thrilled to represent Kimberly’s lively and momentous new play,” said Sean Cercone, Founder and CEO of Broadway Licensing Group. “As the amateur licensing rights home to Arthur Miller’s seminal treasure, ‘The Crucible,’ including ‘John Proctor Is the Villain’ into our catalog is a perfect gateway for students in the 21st century to investigate many of the same timeless themes of panic, reputation, and corruption.”
At a rural high school in Georgia, a group of lively teens are studying “The Crucible” while navigating young love, sex ed, and a few school scandals. Holding a contemporary lens to the American classic, they begin to question who is really the hero and what is the truth, discovering their own power in the process. Alternately touching and bitingly funny, this new comedy captures a generation in mid-transformation, running on pop music, optimism, and fury, writing their own coming of age story.
No stranger to strong female characters, Belflower’s previous work includes “Lost Girls” which won the 2018 Kennedy Center Darrell Ayers National Playwriting Award, “Gondal,” “Teen Girl FANtasies,” and “The Sky Game.” Regarding “‘John Proctor Is the Villain” she said, “[It’s] my heart and guts in a single play,” said Belflower. “I am overjoyed for it to find new life at The Huntington with such tremendous collaborators in director Margot Bordelon and Huntington Artistic Director Loretta Greco.
“Back in 2017/18, the tidal wave of Me Too made me think about what it would be like to grow up in my hometown—in rural Appalachian Georgia—in that moment in time. What would it be like to be a teenager in rural America, feeling the world shift underneath your feet while you’re still figuring out the person you want to be, in a place that’s steeped in tradition, in a culture that tries to make teenage girls feel as powerless as possible? How might those young women re-define their lives in real time? The things they’re taught? The books they read? The heroes they worship?
“I thought that over time, the play would start to feel less relevant. But if anything, this story has only felt more timely, more urgent as it’s developed.”
It is this timeliness and sense of urgency that made The Huntington’s Artistic Director Loretta Greco jump at the chance to program it in the 23/24 season, her first in Boston. “I read Kimberly’s stunning new play and was obsessed!” says Greco. I instantly knew it had to be a part of our conversation at The Huntington. The play lives side by side an examination of ‘The Crucible’ by young women who are discovering their power and agency and who find their way to hold the classic text and their community to account — with a profound sense of rage, authenticity, and hope. We’re thrilled to see this incredible play become available to those it is centered on and to be a part of this movement!”
Belflower added, “From its inception, ‘John Proctor Is the Villain’ has been a play for and about young people. It began in 2018 as a commission through The Farm Theater’s College Collaboration project, where I developed and workshopped the play in conversation with undergraduate theatre students across the Southeast. After a long road through the pandemic and the beginning of the play’s professional life, I am truly thrilled for Broadway Licensing to bring ‘John Proctor’ full circle, back to schools and colleges, where it belongs.”