New multimedia play follows the footsteps of self-proclaimed Witchfinder General Matthew Hopkins
In the 17th Century the infamous self-proclaimed Witchfinder General Matthew Hopkins waged a personal vendetta against women in East Anglia. Seeing Witchcraft everywhere he was determined to use whatever means necessary to convict and execute any woman he suspected. In just three years he was responsible for killing 60% of those executed for witchcraft in the UK.
In Sisterhood, the new multimedia play by Jolie Booth, three women, aged 20, 40 and 60 (without a virgin, mother or hag in sight) are in a church cell, on the night before their trial for Witchcraft.
Sisterhood is a gentle but fearless adventure into the dark heart of patriarchal rule. It is split between two timelines, taking in the history of the infamous 16th century witch trials alongside modern-day concerns as women face a world in political and environmental upheaval. Using soothing and passionate storytelling, the stories of the 16th century characters interweave with episodes from the performer’s own lives, revealing an immediate and clear association. The play has been likened to The Handmaids Tale – ‘but with more hope’.
Every performance on the tour will take place at a location with a historical connection with Matthew Hopkins and accusations of Witchcraft. For example Norwich’s Maids Head Hotel is close to the oldest bridge in the city and, although it’s been rebuilt several times, audiences will be on the spot where a medieval ducking stool was used to test for witches – if the alleged witch failed to drown she was a proven witch and burned to death, if she died on the stool she was declared innocent – which must have been a great comfort to her!
With its opening date on a full moon and moving towards Halloween, the play undertakes a ‘Healing tour’ of East Anglia, visiting 10 of the principal locations associated with the Hopkins’ reign of terror. Booth is a local, having grown up in Braintree, Essex, and has spent the last 30 years working as a Tudor at Kentwell Hall Re-Creation in Long Melford, Suffolk.
Jolie Booth said ‘Sisterhood is a call to disarm the patriarchy through community, through the world-wide women’s web, to treat our-selves and each other with the respect, grace and honour that Mumma Earth – the divine feminine – requires. In the 15th and 16th Centuries women were set against one another in the notorious witch trials, and there are obvious parallels today. In creating the show I worked with an awesome team of women who have collaborated to play their parts in strengthening the bounds of sisterhood. Together we can all rise up and stand as one against a system that is corrupt, destructive, divisive and has been pushing people and the planet around for far too long…’
Sisterhood was written by Jolie Booth and is performed by Jules Craig (Marjorie), Jolie Booth (Alice) & Coco Maertens (Kitty). The play is also being published as a novel by King’s England Press.
Jolie Booth was born in Essex and returns to East Anglia every year to work as a Tudor at Kentwell Hall Re-Creation in Long Melford. She first visited there at the age of ten and was blown away by the experience. A year later she was given a week off school to work there, all on her own! She worked in the dairy and was accused it being a witch as some butter she’d fashioned in the shape of the pavilion on the front sward melted the same day the main post in the middle of the pavilion snapped. She was terrified and had no idea how far the “recreating” was going to go – and this sparked a lifelong interest in Tudor times and the persecution of those (mostly) women accused of being witches.
‘a superbly written, intelligent, and essential play, masterfully portrayed by its three actresses’ Fringe Review
Kriya Arts present a ‘Healing Tour’ of locations associated with self-proclaimed Witchfinder General Matthew Hopkins for this new multimedia play set amidst the notorious 17th century Witch Trials.
Fri 11 Oct 7.30pm
Coggeshall Grange Barn, 25 West St, Coggeshall, Colchester CO6 1NS
£9 03442 491895 www.nationaltrust.org.uk/grange-barn
Sat 12 Oct 7.30pm
Stowmarket Museum of East Anglian Life, Crowe St, Stowmarket Suffolk IP14 1DL
£9, £8 concessions 01449 612229 www.eastanglianlife.org.uk
Sun 13 Oct 7.30pm
Manningtree Red Lion Inn, 42 South St, Manningtree, Essex CO11 1BG
£9 01206 391880 www.redlionmannigtree.co.uk
Mon 14 & Tues 15 Oct 8pm
Chelmsford The Transition, The Anne Knight Buildings, Park Road, City Park West, Essex CM1 1LW
£9.50 01245 698563 www.kriyaarts.co.uk
Wed 16 Oct 7.30pm
Colchester Colchester Castle, Castle Park, Essex CO1 1TJ
£9.50 01206 282939 www.kriyaarts.co.uk
Thu 17 Oct 7.30pm
Lowestoft Seagull Theatre, 19-75 Morton Rd, Lowestoft, Suffolk NR33 0JH
£8 01502 589726 www.theseagull.co.uk
Fri 18 & Sat 19 Oct 7.30pm
Bury St Edmunds Moyse’s Hall Museum, Cornhill, Bury Saint Edmunds, Suffolk IP33 1DX
£9.50, £8.50 concessions 01284 757160 www.moyseshall.org
Tue 22 Oct 7.30pm
Norwich Maids Head Hotel, 20 Tombland, Norwich, Norfolk NR3 1LB
£9.50 01603 209955 www.kriyaarts.co.uk
Wed 23 & Thu 24 Oct 7.45pm
Ely Oliver Cromwell’s House, 29 St Mary’s St, Ely CB7 4HF
£9, £8 concessions 01353 662062 www.olivercromwellshouse.co.uk
‘insightful and powerful’ ★★★★★ Latest Magazine