400th Anniversary of Pendle Witch Trials
July 2012 marks the 400th anniversary of the infamous Pendle Witch Trial. ANDREW GARVEY reports on a theatre production which explores the historic event.
It’s also currently attracting appreciative audiences to theatres for a play written by the acclaimed Richard Shannon.
First performed in 2009 and revived for the 400th anniversary, Sabbat dramatises the story of four of the people affected by the trials – the magistrate Roger Nowell, his wife Judith and two of the accused, Alice Nutter and Jennet Preston.
Performed at theatres “in the round” – no real stage, audience members on all four sides, minimal props and a heavy reliance on writing, acting and lighting – Sabbat effectively and convincingly uses its cast of four actors to explore how gossip, superstition and wild accusations could lead to nine women and two men being hung for witchcraft.