I’m well overdue for a theatre diary, aren’t I? So here goes with a quick one on more new plays I’ve seen in recent (and not-so recent) weeks that I’d recommend catching and haven’t yet managed to squeeze in to separate blogs.
Random and topical thoughts and quotes gathered by My Theatre Mates contributor Aleks Sierz, first published on www.sierz.co.uk.
The best theatre is controversial theatre, but some controversies just make you want to weep. Out of Joint theatre company has been touring Rebecca Lenkiewicz’s Jane Wenham: The Witch of Walkern (co-produced with Watford Palace Theatre and Arcola Theatre) since September last year. All was going well until the 13 October performance at Ipswich High School for Girls was cancelled by the venue “citing concerns over the play’s language”. Max Stafford-Clark, Out of Joint’s artistic director, said: “It is deeply troubling that a play which so eloquently examines witch persecutions from a feminist perspective, and looks at the way society treated and continues to treat women, is considered inappropriate for an audience of young women. The school has also said that the inclusion of swearing is inappropriate, a policy which presumably rules out much contemporary drama or fiction for study.” Indeed. But enough about the follies of our educators, what about the play?
Banned at Ipswich School for Girls last year for ‘inappropriate language’, Rebecca Lenkiewicz’s new play, Jane Wenham: The Witch of Walkern is certainly not the profanity-ridden, immoral cesspool the school made it out to be. Quite the opposite, really. With a cast of characters who are predominately female, this new play reads more like a GCSE English set text that’s a British version of The Crucible.
A fierce bleak play, this. Set in 1712 but, taking the wider world as it is, not un-topical: hangings, tortures, religion turned into a sour power-trip. Here are superstitious dreads and demonization of anyone different, whether homosexual, eccentric or just female.
Tonight should have been the night that Rebecca Lenkiewicz’s new Out of Joint play Jane Wenham: The Witch of Walkern, inspired by the last woman in England to be charged with witchcraft in the 18th century, visited the Ipswich High School for Girls as part of its rural touring in East Anglia and Essex.