Suffering the Witch
A stinging indictment of American religiosity, SUFFERING THE WITCH brings Sharon Driscoll back to her dusty, Pentecostal hometown after an absence of 12 years. She has come to make peace with her past—or perhaps to destroy it. A vibrantly sexual figure against the backdrop of strip malls and storefront chapels, Sharon acts as a catalyst for hidden desires and buried secrets, unsettling the local pastor, his teenage nephew, and her own mother whose struggle to reconcile with Sharon leads to disaster.
La Libre Belgique
Le journal du mardi
Sometimes the progress from inkling to play is relatively short. CRESSIDA, for instance, was inspired by a production of the Shakespeare play I saw one summer, and the following summer it became a play. The inkling for SUFFERING THE WITCH, though, came many years before I wrote it: when I was in high school, I read a small item in the back of the local paper, and for years afterward, it stayed in my head. I kept thinking it would make a good story, novel, or play, and now and then I’d try to make it one. It was probably twenty years later, the same summer I wrote CRESSIDA, that I wrote SUFFERING THE WITCH. (I wrote them both during a stay at the Ragdale Foundation.) By that time, the story was feeding into certain obsessions of mine about belief and religion (see MOTHER CALDWELL or PARADISE). Several years ago the British director Derek Goldby read the play and, having a relationship with Théâtre de Poche in Brussels, he persuaded them to do it there. So its first production was actually in French, though they gave it the title AMERICAN WITCH. It opened a few days before the 2004 election, and one of the directors of the theatre told me that, by producing the play, they felt they were “throwing a stone for John Kerry.” (I returned to the US just in time to vote, and, well, you know the rest of that story…) I was asked to write a program note for the production. You can read it here.