The Coterie & UMKC Present AFFLICTED: DAUGHTERS OF SALEM, Now thru 2/23
The Coterie and UMKC Theatre present the World Premiere of Afflicted: Daughters of Salem, a National Endowment for the Arts award-winning new drama commissioned by The Coterie from playwright Laurie Brooks. Set just before the Salem Witch Trials, Afflicted: Daughters of Salem is inspired by the clique of teen girl accusers that forever established the legacy of Salem. Directed by Jeff Church, the premiere runs today, January 28 - February 23, 2014. In the tradition of the hit feature film, Mean Girls, or the popular television series, Pretty Little Liars, Afflicted: Daughters of Salem provides a fictionalized look inside the peer politics and teen rebellions within the group of young girls and the psychology of leaders and followers.
Following each performance, audience members will have the chance to participate in a unique post-show forum to delve into the themes of the play, a trademark of Brooks' plays. The resolution of the play will happen in the forum.
Afflicted: Daughters of Salem tells the story of the Salem girls - Abigail Williams, the leader; Ann Putnam, Mercy Lewis, Mary Walcott, and Betty Paris - and the crucible of events that led to the contagious Salem Witch Trials. Amongst the girls, allies are found, promises made and broken, power taken... deep in the woods of Puritan, New England. Author Laurie Brooks is a young adult fiction writer and the award-winning playwright behind some of The Coterie's coolest new plays, including The Wrestling Season, The Tangled Web, Atypical Boy, and Selkie: Between Land and Sea.
Afflicted: Daughters of Salem is the second of two Coterie commissioned plays written by female playwrights included in the 2013/2014 Season. The creation of Afflicted grew out of a long-standing relationship between The Coterie's artistic director, Jeff Church, and playwright Laurie Brooks, who explained how the two collaborated to develop a story that was inspired by the Salem Witch Trials but with a new perspective: "Jeff was interested in the teen girls who became the accusers in the Salem Witch Trials. Together we tossed around the idea of an origin story that would examine how the accusations might have begun. We both had a keen interest in how the girls' relationships and power dynamics played a role. Tons of research and a week of development at Arizona State University led to the performance audiences will experience."
When asked why the story of Afflicted: Daughters of Salem focuses on the instigators rather than the trials and their historic aftermath, playwright Laurie Brooks says, "The Crucible, which most kids read in school, covers the actual trials very well. As a playwright, I have always been fascinated by character, relationships and conflict, so I wanted to explore the group dynamics, the power struggles, and struggle for survival of these girls in a world where danger is a huge part of their everyday life."
Produced as part of The Coterie Sparks series, Afflicted: Daughters of Salem will be best appreciated by ages 10 years old through adult. The production is funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, Missouri Arts Council, the ArtsKC Fund, and Theater League.
All tickets and the new Spotlight Club Passes are on sale now and may be purchased by calling The Coterie's box office at 816.474.6552, dropping by the box office on level one of the Crown Center Shops, or by visiting www.thecoterie.org.
Photo by J. Robert Schraeder