Tracey Norman is the writer and creator of the hugely successful play 'Witch' and resides in Devon U.K. Written in 2016, this powerful play is based on the compelling true story of Deanes Grimmertons and include the transcript of the 17th Century Witch trial. Claire Barrand interviewed Tracey about the inspiration behind the play.
Your play Witch has been hugely successful, and I believe has surpassed your expectations of it only lasting one season! Congratulations and tell us more about Witch!
Thank you! Yes, WITCH has really surprised me and has led on to so many other wonderful and unexpected things. It’s set loosely in the late 1500s and tells the story of a destitute widow, Margery Scrope, who has been accused of witchcraft by her neighbour Thomas Latimer. His daughter has died, and his son is ill, and he believes that Margery is responsible. They are both brought before Sir William Tyrell, the local landowner/magistrate. He has been going through his papers for the day and, in amongst the cases of theft, brawling, and immorality, he finds Latimer’s accusation. Having never dealt with such a case before, he is intrigued. A discussion ensues about Latimer’s evidence while Sir William weighs up what he hears and makes a decision about how the case should proceed. The play was written as a discussion piece, so it asks far more questions than it answers and, ultimately, it is for the audience to decide … is she, or isn’t she?
What was the inspiration behind Witch?
I graduated from the OU in 2015 with a First Class Honours degree in History and wanted to do something useful with it. Some friends and I had just started Circle of Spears Productions, an indie audio production house and theatre company, and I thought I would write a piece of theatre for us, something which actually put my degree to practical use. I really wanted to capture an obscure moment in history, bring it to life and make it more accessible. I eventually settled on dramatizing a witch trial, so I approached the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic in Boscastle, explained what I was doing and asked if they had any trial transcripts I could work from. They were incredibly supportive from the outset – and still are – and introduced me to a Lyme Regis housewife called Deanes Grimmerton, who had been accused of witchcraft in 1687.