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September 18, 2017   UGA Guide | UGA Theatre’s season will open with Rona Munro’s…
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Rona Munro's The Last Witch is based on the true story of the last woman legally executed for witchcraft in England. UGA Theatre's production will begin Sept. 22.

UGA Theatre’s season will open with Rona Munro’s ‘The Last Witch’

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The curtain will rise on UGA Theatre's 2017-2018 season Sept. 22 at 8 p.m. in the Fine Arts Theatre with Rona Munro's The Last Witch.

Additional performances will be held Sept. 26-30 at 8 p.m. and Sept. 24 and Oct. 1 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $16, $12 for students, and can be purchased at drama.uga.edu/box-office, by phone at 706-542-4400, or in person at the Performing Arts Center or Tate Center box office.

The Last Witch is based on the true story of the last woman legally executed for witchcraft in England. Janet Horne, played by third-year MFA actor Anna Pieri, is a woman scorned and ridiculed. Janet carefully cultivates her reputation, her intelligence and her womanly charms to bend others to her will. However, her ability to survive on the lowest rung of the social ladder soon attracts the attention of local law enforcement, and the lines between curiosity and passion become blurred. Is Janet merely a cunning fighter or might she possess actual supernatural powers?

"Her life up to this point has been a hardscrabble existence in the hostile, barren east coast of northern Scotland," said director Ray Paolino about the titular witch. "Every mouthful of food and taste of fresh water is the result of her sole efforts and the occasional kindness of a neighbor to keep Janet and her young daughter alive."

"The fear these 18th-century characters have of witches is a powerful metaphor for the way many men continue to demonize powerful women today," said David Saltz, head of the theatre and film studies department, which is part of the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.

"Witchcraft is often situated at the fringes of society, either in a celebratory fashion or out of the obvious superstitions that it conjures," said costume designer Kelsey Albright. "It is of note that witchcraft also is primarily associated with women, painting them as evil, wild or untamable."

Dramaturg Lukas Woodyard, a third-year theatre and English major who serves as a research assistant to the production, said, that like Arthur Miller's The Crucible and its relationship with McCarthyism and the Red Scare, Munro's play draws a comparison between Janet's story and the demonization of femininity in today's patriarchal culture.

"But unlike Miller's play, Munro's is a more intimate and sympathetic portrayal of the ‘witches' and the true horror of their situation," he said.

UGA Theatre's The Last Witch is "an engaging and visceral work that explores the lies we tell others and ourselves to survive," said Saltz. "Munro's play is wryly humorous, often chilling and certain to be a production that will stay with the audience long after the curtain falls."

 

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