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The Northeastern Department of Theatre presents Vinegar Tom, a harrowing and wildly theatrical drama by Caryl Churchill, featuring original songs. In 17th century England, two women are accused of being witches by a man they have sexually rejected. In a world dominated by irrational beliefs, how do they prove their innocence? A chilling examination of the demonization of women with power, the fear of female sexuality, and why we are compelled to persecute those we see as different. The New York Times called the play “provocative theatre as well as a conscience-baring social document.”

Directed by Associate Professor Janet Bobcean, the production runs from November 10 – 20 in the Studio Theatre. Professor Bobcean says, “When people live with fear and superstition, they are easily manipulated and the disenfranchised often are blamed for the problems of a community. What then may take place is known as a witch-hunt. Churchill examines this underbelly of human interaction as it occurred in rural England.”

“The power of theatre is that it doesn’t tell audiences what to think, but rather asks critical questions about human behavior,” says Chair Scott Edmiston. “This fall, our departmental productions  explore questions that we confront on a daily basis. With Vinegar Tom, we’re asking: What are the impulses behind a witch hunt, behind the fear of ‘the other?’ Is society still afraid of powerful women? The parallels to our current political climate could not be more timely, with the country on the cusp of potentially electing its first female president, and the strains of sexism and nativism that this election has brought to the fore.”

The production features three professional guest artists who are working at Northeastern for the first time: Jenna MacFarland Lord designed the set; Frank Meissner designed the lighting; and composer David Remedios has written seven original songs for the cast to perform. Costumes are by Teaching Professor Frances Nelson McSherry and sound design is by Theatre Operations Specialist Darren Evans.

Caryl Churchill is widely recognized as one of the world’s leading playwrights, renowned for her feminist and socialist views. She was born in 1938 in London and grew up in Montreal. She was Resident Dramatist at the Royal Court and spent much of the 1970s and 1980s working with the theatre groups Joint Stock and Monstrous Regiment. Her work during this period includes Light Shining in Buckinghamshire (1976), Cloud Nine (1979), Fen (1983), Mad Forest (1990), The Skriker (1994), Far Away (2000). She has also published a new translation of Seneca’s Thyestes (2001), and A Number (2002), which addresses the subject of human cloning. Her new version of August Strindberg’s A Dream Play premiered at the National Theatre in 2005 and Drunk Enough to Say I Love You? premiered at the Royal Court Theatre in 2006. Caryl Churchill lives in London.

Throughout her distinguished career, Janet Bobcean has designed and directed over 200 stage productions. She most recently directed The Two Character Play and The Pink Bedroom for Playhouse Creatures Theatre Company’s Third Annual NYC Tennessee Williams Festival in New York City. Ms. Bobcean also serves as a board member of the company. Her work has also been seen at New York’s Lincoln Center and Dickson Place, The Kennedy Center, and the North Carolina Shakespeare Company Festival In 2006 she directed Charlotte the Destroyer at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Tickets are available at mytickets.northeastern.edu/online or by calling 617-373-4700.