Witches in the Woods by Amy Neufeld
Lightning Banjo Productions
Incubation Reading and Workshop
March 12 2:00 PM/EST and March 17 6:30 PM/EST
From the Playwright: “Witches in the Woods is a respinning of Hansel and Gretel – Yara and Sybil want to start a family in their cozy cottage in the woods, but the crown’s newly appointed administrator of the orphans doesn’t think they’re a suitable fit, and that’s when rumours about the women start to fly. Nearby, Hansel and Gretel are trying to survive their terrible home life, and stumble upon Yara and Sybil’s cottage after being left in the woods. But where does the threat lie for these children and the women, and who, ultimately, is going to help them?
In Witches in the Woods, I am playing with the concepts of villain and mother, asking who is labeled with which title, and if those monikers are accurate. I’m curious about the point where mother and villain intersect, both in reality and perception. Besides being an interesting question, it makes for a fun story and interesting characters to root for or despise! Theatre for Young Audiences is such an important part of performance and a community, because while watching plays, children develop their empathy and begin to understand that there are multiple points of view to consider. And re-working fairy tales is a great way to use a familiar story to pull apart assumptions and challenge what we think we know about a story.
Thanks to Pat the Dog, Femme Folks Fest, and the Region of Waterloo Arts fund for their support of this project.”
Jen Cornish – Sybil
Anna Maste – Nerezza
Joy Soltys – Gretel
Vanessa Spence – Yara
Sunny Ticknor-Malton – Hansel
Kez Vicario-Robinson – Mr. Hidebound
Kevin White – Cowell
Playwright – Amy Neufeld
Amy Neufeld is a settler writing living and working in Kitchener Ontario. She is the co-founder of Lightning Banjo Productions, a theatre company for young audiences, and has written several plays produced by the company. Her plays explore classic children’s stories through a modern, feminist lens. Amy also writes fiction and essays, and has a blog where she is currently documenting her quest to become a River Phoenix Movie Completist. Amy has an Honours BA in English Literature from Wilfrid Laurier University, and a diploma in Theatre Arts from Grant MacEwan University. In addition to writing, Amy directs, produces, and teaches theatre. She is also an avid knitter with a fondness for creating cacti. Follow her on Twitter.
Photo credits: Nick Stanley
Vanessa C Spence is a classically trained theatre actor, published author, playwright, producer, and arts educator. She is a creative entrepreneur with over seven years of experience in the performance arts industry and social sectors with a specialization in marketing & communications. She is the artistic director of Virtu Arts – the first Black woman-led theatre company in the Region of Waterloo that serves the diaspora of Black, Caribbean, and African artists in regions where they are not well represented. She is the Producer at Obsidian Theatre – Canada’s leading culturally specific theatre company, and an associate artist of Pat the Dog Theatre Creation where she is currently completing a company/creator arts residency supported by the Ontario Arts Council. Vanessa is also the Board Chair of Arts Awards Waterloo Region.
Vanessa’s personal artistic practice is rooted in building empathy and understanding of the stories of Black female bodies as a call to action that will positively affect the community and future generations. Vanessa was accepted as a regional playwright in the 2021 cohort for Pat The Dog’s Women’s Room where she completed her most recent work, Stretch Marks which saw a 3-day run in the IMPACT21 Festival presented by MT Space. Vanessa is currently developing an untitled, intergenerational play that tells the story of three sisters from Trinidad grappling with themes of aging, legacy, illness, and life vs. death.
Learn more about Vanessa at vanessacspence.com, and Virtu Arts at virtuarts.ca.
Kevin White is an actor and school library technician. He has previously appeared with Flex We Talent, JM Drama, Lightning Banjo Productions, The Latitudes Storytelling Festival, Kitchener-Waterloo Little Theatre, and as a collaborator and narrator on a series of recitals with Cameron Marcott, and alongside concert pianist Mauro Bertoli.
Kez Vicario-Robinson is a genderqueer, non-binary artistic performer. They have been performing as a stand-up comedian for the last 4 years in festivals and venues in Toronto, Waterloo region, and surrounding areas. They are an improv artist, producer, creator, actor, writer and queer history fanatic. Outside of performing, Kez works with the SHORE Centre of Waterloo region, Rainbow Reels: Queer and Trans Film Festival, OK2BME, and KW Counselling Services.
Find them on the socials as @kezvr
Sunny is a local KW-based performer, director, and singer/song-writer, who has enjoyed being part of various theatre communities in the area in different capacities, including TCP New Hamburg, KWLT, Lightning Banjo Productions, Lost & Found Theatre, and Outfest queer theatre festivals, among other more independent projects. To date, the role that holds the dearest place in Sunny’s heart has been Wilbur the Pig in Lightning Banjo’s production of Charlotte’s Web. As a trans parent of a 4-year-old with another arriving any day, theatre that changes the usual narratives for younger generations is essential in our already theatrical household, and this project is exciting to be a part of!