“The Witch of Blackbird Pond,” by playwright Y York and adapted from Elizabeth George Speare’s children’s book, is a period piece set in the late 17th century. The play, which has a cast of 13, follows Katherine “Kit” Tyler, a young orphan from Barbados that travels to the strict and pious Puritan colony in Connecticut.
Being foreign to the New World and the Puritan lifestyle, Kit is unable to fit into the society. As a result she befriends Hannah Tupper, another outsider.
“The Witch of Blackbird Pond” has similar characteristics to “The Crucible,” by Arthur Miller and other stories set in traditional Puritan society. Characters are accused of witchcraft, and overarching themes of ignorance, acceptance and tolerance are depicted throughout the play.
According to the play’s director Tammi Doyle, who is also the theatre arts department chair, “The play is trying to show the harm that can be done when beliefs become fundamental. In a simple way, this play really highlights that ignorance leads to fear, which leads to hate, and leads to violence.”
Although the characters in the play don’t always do the right thing, Doyle said, “There are really no ‘bad guys.’ People’s beliefs allow them to do negative things to others. Pretty much everybody changes, which is pretty interesting of the story, and those who don’t also make the play fascinating.”
Additionally, Andre Bourlin, who plays Reverend Gideon Gish noted that the characters’ actions are motivated by their upbringing.
“No one in the play is either good or evil, entirely,” Bourlin said. “My character Gideon does these crazy things such as killing a cat because he thinks it’s a witch,” he explained. “In the world he grew up in, Gideon believes he has to protect the town. At the same time, he keeps his wife Rebecca from learning, which is against the Puritan belief that everyone should learn.”
According to Jack Anderson, who plays Nat Eaton, the play’s main message is to be true to oneself. This theme is symbolized through Kit and her attempt to fit in with the Puritan society.
Anderson explained, “The main reason why the main character is having problems is because she lives life the way she wants to, disregarding the Puritan’s rules. This messes with the new society. She realizes that she shouldn’t change herself to follow the society.”
Since it is a period piece, the play is detailed with various elements of daily Puritan life in the late 1600s, such as corn husking and spinning thread. The play will also show differences in gender roles and how a society operated with a strict religion.
“It’s interesting to see how the men operated, which is really important,” said Doyle.
Unlike other productions this year, “The Witch of Blackbird Pond” will feature an original score, which will be prepared by BC alumni Carly Ann Worden, now a student at Cornish College of the Arts. Doyle and Warden will also be writing an original ballad that will be sung for the play.
“I’m really excited about that,” said Doyle.
“The music will play with your emotions,” said Anderson. “It just adds onto the ambiance of the whole scene.”
The play will run May 28 – 30, and June 4 – 6. General admissions is $12 and student price is $10. Tickets can be purchased at brownpapertickets.com.