Full cast announced for Rebecca Lenkiewicz's new play, Jane Wenham: The Witch of Walkern

14 August 2015

Watford Palace Theatre announces full casting for Jane Wenham: The Witch of Walkern, by Rebecca Lenkiewicz.

Ria Parry will direct Patti Love in the title role of Rebecca Lenkiewicz’s Jane Wenham: The Witch of Walkern. The world premiere production, from Out of Joint, Watford Palace Theatre and Arcola Theatre in association with Eastern Angles, will tour the UK from September 2015 to January 2016.

Patti will be joined in the cast by David Acton (Hutchinson), Judith Coke (Priddy), Tim Delap (Crane),Hannah Hutch (Ann), Andrew Macklin (Fergal/Pricker), Rachel Sanders (Widow) and Cat Simmons (Kemi).

The production will open to press at Watford Palace Theatre before two weeks of rural touring in association with Eastern Angles. It will then travel to Leeds, Liverpool, Bristol and Salisbury before playing at London’s Arcola Theatre.

Jane Wenham: The Witch of Walkern is inspired one of the last major witch trials in England. The charges brought against Jane Wenham, the cunning woman of a small Hertfordshire village in 1712, provoked a nationwide pamphlet war.

Rebecca Lenkiewicz dramatises Wenham’s extraordinary story for our times. Alive with the mysteries of sex, nature and the supernatural, this gripping new play blasts society’s hunger to find – and create – witches.

Director Ria Parry said ‘Part of what draws me to Jane Wenham: The Witch of Walkern is that it resonates with issues we are still facing today. In many areas of the world, women are still horribly oppressed, and even closer to home there is a tendency to ‘witch-hunt’ not just women, but anyone we fear or don’t understand – to persecute or demonize a particular group in order to protect yourself or your own. It’s an us and them mentality – a war on the weak, an inability to cope with or accept ‘difference.’ There is an intimate look at the power and hypocrisy of religion in the play, which brilliantly interweaves with the community’s treatment of women. Jane Wenham is set in 1712, but it is disturbingly relevant to now. We have a stunning cast and an excellent creative team. It’s a real pleasure to be working with Rebecca on the premiere of her superb play.

Rebecca Lenkiewicz won a BAFTA for co-writing Ida with Pawel Pawlikowski, which also won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film. She won a Fringe First for her play Soho: A Tale of Table Dancers, and her plays The Night Seasonand Her Naked Skin both premiered at the National Theatre. Rebecca is the first living female playwright to have her worked produced on the Olivier Stage at the NT. Her play The Invisible is currently playing at the Bush Theatre.

Ria Parry is Co-Artistic Director of Iron Shoes, for whom her productions include Mad About The Boy (Edinburgh Fringe & National Tour – Fringe First Winner 2009), Caryl Churchill’s Fen at the Finborough Theatre, and Crush (Fringe First winner 2011). Other work includes Albion (Bush Theatre), On Golden Pond (Salisbury Playhouse) and The Winter's Tale Re-imagined (Regent's Park Open Air Theatre.) Ria was awarded the Leverhulme Bursary for Emerging Directors in 2010/11, becoming Resident Director at the National Theatre Studio.

Patti Love has extensive stage and screen credits which include for film Women in GoldMrs Henderson PresentsAn Awfully Big Adventure and A Long Good Friday. Stage credits include Something Never Happened(Assembly Rooms), The Prisoner of Second Avenue (Old Vic/Vaudeville), The Glass Menagerie (Exeter Northcott) and Henry IV parts I and II (RSC).