Those Women Productions Announces the World Premiere of WITCH HUNT
Those Women Productions presents the world premiere of Carol S. Lashof's Witch Hunt, a new drama that explores the origins of the Salem witch panic and compels us to consider the ties between that infamous era and our present moment in history. Witch Hunt begins preview performances on July 12, opens on Friday, July 19, and runs through August 4 at La Val's Subterranean Theater in Berkeley. Those Women Productions practices "Radical Hospitality": the suggested price for tickets is $30 but all tickets for all shows are choose your own price with no minimum. Advance tickets are available at witchhunt.brownpapertickets.com or can be purchased at the door subject to availability.
"I make plays to change the stories we believe in, because it's the best way I know to change the world we live in," said playwright Lashof. "When I began research for this project, I was shocked to discover how much of what I thought I knew about the witch trials and Puritan New England turned out to be made up out of a tissue of myth, prejudice, and outright lies. Girls dancing naked in the woods? In February? During one of the coldest winters in New England history? Not likely."
Directed by Elizabeth Vega, Witch Hunt uncovers the uniquely American story of Tituba, an enslaved Indigenous woman who was one of the first in the Salem community to be accused of witchcraft. As the panic in Salem grows, Tituba must figure out how to survive in a society that inherently distrusts her and refuses to believe her truth. Ultimately, she offers the first false confession, opening the floodgates to the fury that follows.
In most popular accounts of the panic, such as Arthur Miller's The Crucible, Tituba is marginalized and misrepresented. In Witch Hunt, by contrast, Lashof uncovers a compelling story of a captive Indigenous woman in a Puritan family. Kidnapped as a child, Tituba was sold into slavery in Barbados where she was bought by Samuel Parris, who later transported her to Salem Village. By 1692, she had assimilated to Puritan society and adopted Christianity as her religion, but her role in the Parris family and Salem Village was fraught with danger, especially once the Indian wars broke out anew and the English settlers grew increasingly frightened of attack.
Lashof's new drama, a TBA Rella Lossy Award finalist, is timely in its representation of an American community riven by factionalism and nearly destroyed by its demonization of the people it has colonized. Once again, our society is confronted with questions about whose truth deserves to be heard, and once again more powerful figures can feel the ground shifting under their feet.
The cast for Witch Hunt includes Sofia Angelopoulos, Nathan Bogner, Steven Flores, Renee Rogoff, Kitty Torres, and Julie Ann Valdez. Design team includes Quinnton Barringer (scenic), Rachael Heiman (costumes), Samuel Raskin (sound), andClaudio Silva (lighting).
Playwright Carol Lashof's work has been broadcast on BET ("Gap," dir. Ryan Coogler) and NPR ("The Story," dir. Martin Esslin) and staged on five continents from The Magic Theatre of San Francisco to Peking University in Beijing. Lashof is Professor Emerita at Saint Mary's College of California, the Executive Director of Those Women Productions, and a member of the Dramatists Guild.
Director Elizabeth Vega is the Founding Artistic Director of Those Women Productions. She holds a BA in Liberal Arts from St. John's College and an MFA in Staging Shakespeare from Exeter University where she studied at the Globe Theater in London. Directing credits include Troilus and Cressida at the Dell Theater in Stratford-Upon-Avon and the world premiere of Lashof's Just Deserts. She is on the faculty at Holden High School and the Berkeley Rep School of Theater.
Dramaturg Norman Patrick Johnson holds a BA in English Literature and Creative Writing from City College of New York and completed the Meisner Technique training program at the Bay City Studios in San Francisco. An Associate Artist with Those Women Productions, he has, most recently, served as director and dramaturg for the world premiere of Nick Mwaluko's "They/Them" for Shifting Spaces (TBA Awards Finalist 2018). He is the director of the Middle School Drama program at The Berkeley School.
Those Women Productions is a Berkeley-based theater company dedicated to giving the stage to hidden truths of gender and power. Previous productions have been praised by critics: San Francisco Chronicle's Lily Janiak said, of Unquestioned Integrity,"Those Women Productions offers a chance to account for how much or how little we've progressed since [since the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearings] in 1991." Owen Brunell of Theatrius.com said "Shifting Spaces is so much more than an excellent feminist perspective on self image and determination ... Characters transcend the stage, touchingly, as they search for and discover new identities." And of Margaret Of Anjou, The Daily Californian praised, "Shakespeare would have been proud to see his work take on new life." Now in its fifth year, Those Women Productions recently announced that, together with Custom Made Theatre, it will be co-producing The Lady Scribblers, a world premiere comedy from Michaela Goldhaber, as part of the inaugural Bay Area Women's Theatre Festival next March. More information is available at www.ThoseWomenProductions.com.
Those Women Productions is grateful for the support of the City of Berkeley Civic Arts Grant program, the Theatre Bay Area CA$H Grant program, and the Zellerbach Family Foundation Community Arts program for Witch Hunt and future productions.
A special free preview event will be held on Saturday, July 13, at Berkeley Public Library's Central Branch, featuring performance of a scene and conversation with the playwright and members of the cast of Witch Hunt.