VINEGAR TOM by Caryl Churchill (Virginia Burke, Dona Werner Freeman, Emily Gunyou Halaas and Katrina Hawley, photo by Tony Nelson)
Witches, cunning people, and desperate folks, young and old, inhabit the English countryside in the 1600s. VINEGAR TOM opens with a tryst between a strange man and a young woman; when she asks him to take her to London with him, he scoffs, saying if she is not a wife, a widow or a virgin, then she must be a whore or, as it turns out, worse: a witch. This sets the tone for a world set against the backdrop of the 17th century witch hunts in England. VINEGAR TOM focuses on women impoverished and trapped by their class, and the perpetuation of their status in a world where varying from the norm is a crime, and everyone is looking for a scapegoat for the unordinary or the inexplicable. Right or wrong is never a question, and simple finger-pointing serves as judgment. The implications of 17th century witch-hunting echo through history right up to the present.
VINEGAR TOM, written in 1976, is an early work by a writer who is one of the most produced playwrights in the world, Caryl Churchill; Frank has presented two of her other works—our acclaimed production of TOP GIRLS in 1990, and MAD FOREST in 1993. Churchill said, "The women accused of witchcraft were often those on the edges of society. I wanted to write a about witches with no witches in it; a play not about evil, hysteria and possession by the devil but about poverty, humiliation and prejudice, and how women accused of witchcraft saw themselves."
VINEGAR TOM’s stellar cast included Patrick Bailey, Virginia Burke, Dona Werner Freeman, Emily Gunyou Halaas, Katrina Hawley, Christopher Kehoe, Lori Neal, Anika Solveig and Cheryl Willis. The production was directed by Frank Artistic Director Wendy Knox, costumes by Kathy Kohl, scenery by Andrea Heilman, lighting by Michael Wangen, and sound by Zach Humes. Original music for the show was composed by Annie Enneking, Marya Hart, George Maurer, Ruth MacKenzie and Pablo. The production was stage managed by Kasey Brandt and Spencer Putney with assistance from Katie Burger.
“Wendy Knox is an audience ally” - Citypages
“strong sense of purpose” – Citypages
“you feel messy, a bit confused and breathless” Citypages
“spirited and persuasive” – Star Tribune
“well-staged” – Star Tribune
“beautifully engaging performance” – Star Tribune
“beautiful” – Star Tribune
“first-rate and engaging” – Star Tribune
"pulls no punches" - Pioneer Press
"visceral" - Pioneer Press
"vigorous" - Talkin' Broadway
"rewarding"- Talkin' Broadway
"raw" - Talkin' Broadway
"unmistakeable energy" - Talkin' Broadway