AS incense burns and the lights dim on a smoky set, London’s Old Vic is transformed into Salem, 1692, for Yaël Farber’s spellbinding adaptation of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. Sombre figures move eerily across a chair-littered stage. Among them is newcomer Hannah Hutch from Marlow.
After leaving Sir William Borlase and Jam Theatre Company, Marlow in 2012, Hannah joined touring London theatre company, Fourth Monkey, before training at The Actors Class in London. There, the young Hannah Hutchinson dropped the last part of her name and picked up an agent, Byron’s Management, in one sweep.
Farber’s production has received rave reviews for its portrayal of the famous story of witchcraft, betrayal and the human capacity to hate. It’s not an easy ride, but it’s clear that every moment has been expertly planned; it is poignant, punchy and well worth the chills.
Richard Armitage takes the lead of John Proctor, while a wealth of impressive new talent accom-panies him on stage. Twenty-year-old Hannah joins an ensemble of six young women who point their twisted fingers at the wives of the village, and cry ‘witch’.
Since attending Danesfield Primary School in Marlow, Hannah has aimed for the stage. "I have always wanted to do it, I love getting the chance to be lots of different characters that some people can only dream of being.
"Of course the industry is competitive, especially in a big city. The important thing is to make yourself unique. Everyone brings something different to a character which makes [the industry] very subjective".
Stepping straight into on-the-job training, rather than attending a drama school, I wonder how she compares the different routes. "I believe you can learn a lot on the job and I'm doing so now. Drama school is considered a must for many young actors but it's not your only option."
She’s relatively new to the business, so I assume she can’t have had many weird auditions. Wrong. "The strangest thing I've had to do in an audition is be pink mist". She doesn’t tell me if she got the job or not.
Turning to the auditions she did score, I’m eager to find out about her experience on The Crucible. "The most challenging part is the length of the play". At three and a half hours long and with eight shows a week, it’s an exhausting job. Hannah’s reward, however, is playing to an audience of more than 900 per show. "If I find it hard one night I just remind myself of the 20 innocent lives that were taken [in the witch trials] in Salem."
Hannah hasn’t looked past the next few months (aside from a well-earned holiday when the run ends in September) let alone the next few years. "I cannot imagine where I'll be but I've always loved this quote from Mike George, ‘The purpose of life is to be creative. The deepest joy in life comes when you are being creative in a purposeful way. You didn't come here to get a life you came to create your life.’ So as long as I'm creating something I'll be happy."
The Crucible is playing at the The Old Vic in London until September 13.