Rebecca Lenkiewicz probes witch trial for new drama

The Witch of Walkern

Rebecca Lenkiewicz is hoping for magic with her new play Jane Wenham: The Witch of Walkern for Out of Joint, Watford Palace and the Arcola theatres.

Ria Parry will direct Patti Love in the title role.

Wenham is inspired one of the last major witch trials in England. The charges brought against Jane Wenham, the “cunning woman” of a small Hertfordshire village in 1712, provoked a nationwide pamphlet war.

This gripping new play blasts society’s hunger to find – and create – witches with an extraordinary story for our times that is alive with the mysteries of sex, nature and the supernatural.

Wenham will tour the UK from September before moving to the Arcola in East London.

Patti will be joined in the cast by David Acton, Judith Coke, Tim Delap, Hannah Hutch, Andrew Macklin, Rachel Sanders and Cat Simmons.

The production will open at Watford Palace Theatre before two weeks of rural touring in association with Eastern Angles.

Director Ria Parry said: “Part of what draws me to Jane Wenham: The Witch of Walkern is that it resonates with issues we are still facing today.

Ria Parry

“In many areas of the world, women are still horribly oppressed, and even closer to home there is a tendency to ‘witch-hunt’ not just women, but anyone we fear or don’t understand – to persecute or demonize a particular group in order to protect yourself or your own.

“It’s an us and them mentality – a war on the weak, an inability to cope with or accept ‘difference.’

“There is an intimate look at the power and hypocrisy of religion in the play, which brilliantly interweaves with the community’s treatment of women.

“Jane Wenham is set in 1712, but it is disturbingly relevant to now. We have a stunning cast and an excellent creative team. It’s a real pleasure to be working with Rebecca on the premiere of her superb play”.

Rebecca Lenkiewicz won a BAFTA for co-writing Ida with Pawel Pawlikowski, which also won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film. She won a Fringe First for her play Soho: A Tale of Table Dancers, and her plays The Night Season and Her Naked Skin both premiered at the National Theatre.

Rebecca Lenkiewicz

Rebecca is the first living female playwright to have her worked produced on the Olivier Stage at the NT. Her play The Invisible is currently playing at the Bush Theatre.

Patti Love has extensive stage and screen credits which include for film Women in Gold, Mrs Henderson Presents, An Awfully Big Adventure and A Long Good Friday.

Stage credits include Something Never Happened (Assembly Rooms), The Prisoner of Second Avenue (Old Vic/Vaudeville), The Glass Menagerie (Exeter Northcott) and Henry IV parts I and II (RSC).

2015 Tour Dates

September 23–October 3, Watford Palace Theatre
October 6, The Cut, Halesworth, Suffolk
October 7, Community Centre, Bradfield, Essex
October 8, Lakeside Theatre, Uni of Essex, Wivenhoe
October 9, Garboldisham Village Hall, Norfolk
October 10, Brandestone Village hall, Suffolk
October 13, Ipswich High School for Girls
October 14, Public Hall, Witham, Essex
October 15, Felsted School, Dunmow, Essex
October 16, The Curve, Sudbury Ormiston Academy, Suffolk
October 17, Woodbridge Community Hall, Suffolk
October 21-24, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds
October 27-31, Liverpool Everyman Theatre
November 3-7, Tobacco Factory Theatres, Bristol
November 10-14, Salisbury Playhouse

2016

January 5-30, Arcola Theatre, London

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