I am trying to get funding so that I can write to its completion a play I have thought of called Witch. I am applying for the Theatre Creator’s Reserve and so far I have submitted 3 applications for Witch and 1 application for my burgeoning new musical My Big Fat Jewish Christmas. But forget about my dreams of writing an epic new holiday show for a moment because this post is about Witch. I really believe in the vision of this story.
The following is essentially what I have been sending around to the various theatre companies around town:
I am a writer who wants to write a powerful and transformative story inhabited by powerful, transformative and dynamic characters. I believe that I have written the beginnings of an innovative and magical story that has the potential to excite and dazzle audiences. Witch is about two very different women living in two very different time periods: 17th century Salem, Massachussettes, and 21st century Toronto, Canada. I have thought of an intriguing way to weave these characters’ stories into a play that I would like the opportunity to fully explore with the help of the Ontario Arts Council Theatre Creator’s Reserve.
Mercy Bridgewood is a fictitious woman with genius-level intelligence living in Salem, Massachussettes in and around the Salem Witch Trials. Jenny James is an actress who became famous in her early 20s for her role as a sex-bot in a wildly popular film that became a cult classic. Now, Jenny is in her late 30s and has been attempting to reinvent herself as a dramatic actress. She longs to turn her career into one that would rival Meryl Streep. In a nutshell, Mercy discovers witchcraft, out of her grief at losing a child and essentially becomes trapped in her journal and subsequently released when her journal is made into a play performed by Jenny. Jenny becomes possessed by Mercy and mayhem ensues as Jenny’s dreams of being taken seriously as an actress are finally realized. Mercy’s story is told through scenes in the play and reveal a woman transformed from a sweet and innocent mother simply trying to do right in the world to a power hungry, youth draining evil witch. There is one more plot twist that I would like to explore but have not figured out just yet. Mercy’s husband, Thomas accuses her of witchcraft and as the authorities arrive to take Mercy to her eventual death Mercy casts a spell that allows her soul to jump from her body and into Thomas’ and vice versa. So when Mercy’s body is on trial and put to death it is really Thomas, as Mercy watches on. At first, Mercy in the body of Thomas is wrought with guilt. However, as the years go by and Thomas’ body deteriorates she hungers for more time and must justify each life that she takes. Eventually she goes too far and someone traps her in the journal.
This show will most definitely blur the lines between tragedy and humor. In the final scene, Jenny decides to fight for her soul and decides to perform a self- exorcism in what could be her final performance. When I get this show to a live performance I would like to achieve some kind of harmony between creepy and outrageously comedic. I understand that at this point the story is full of interesting plot moves but I really want to spend time rooting each element of story in the character’s emotional truth. At this point in time, I have about 10 pages written, character descriptions and a detailed plot summary. I need time to for research and writing and consulting with an editor/dramaturge.
I want to write two great roles for woman of a certain age. Why? Mostly because I keep hearing that there are no good roles for woman over a certain age and so therefore I want to do my part to remedy the situation. I need time to for writing, research and meeting with a talented and knowledgeable theatre arts professional to really nail these ideas to the ground.
I hope I get at least one or maybe more so that I can truly devote my time and attention to the task of writing such a work. I feel like I am “blessed” or whatever with the vision of how it could all go. The issue is the time and attention required to bring such a story to its feet.
I also want to mention in this post that I first thought of this idea while standing in that store Tea Shop in Bloor West Village and I was staring at a mug with a witch on it. It’s like that J.K Rowling story where the thought just happened upon me: actress who plays a witch and turns into an Angelica Houston-Roahl Dahl type witch. It can be so exciting when inspiration strikes out of nowhere. Of course, I told the first person I spoke to about it who unfortunately thought the idea was stupid. A tad discouraged so I buried the thought and didn’t think about it again until months later when I was boiling herbs to remedy my whole alopecia thing. It dawned on me that from the outside looking in that I must look like a witch: balding woman standing over a big cauldron-esque pot stirring this stinky herbal remedy with a black cat at my side. I started thinking about the story for real at that point but didn’t really do much writing just thought about how it could go. I did attempt to do the same exact thing I am doing now with the whole OAC TCR application but the idea was not as evolved as it is now.
I obviously am biased and so I love this story and the characters that inhabit that world so therefore the thought of not receiving not even 1 grant creates this defensiveness within me. It ignites a chorus of: how dare you? and can’t you see the muse is trying to works its magic through me, and oh woe is me why does the life of an artist have to be so self-professed all the time. I am trying to heal myself of this defensiveness but it isn’t the easiest thing. I guess, if I don’t get not even one writing grant it must mean it’s because I neglected to the whole networking thing. But I don’t really know if networking really works for me because if you catch me on a bad day then I am not going to be doing myself any favors by being like ‘hi, I’m virtual unknown Canadian playwright/writer of musicals you’ve never heard of Alexandra Lean’. That won’t impress them much! (Thanks Shania – I truly believe those lyrics were written so I could make that joke). But who am I to question the wheel – I need to just shut up and jump on the merry go round and play the game? I don’t know what I am saying anymore.