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17th century witch hunts make 'Vinegar Tom' a troubling tale

By Alec Jennings
University News Service
February 3, 2010

Vinegar Tom

The cast of Vinegar Tom (left to right) Ragan Rhodes (Betty), Terissa Kelton (Alice), Allison Gregory (Susan), Leslie Monge (Margery), Stephanie Marlow (Ellen), Ashley Rountree (Joan) and Tina Morille (Goody). (Photo by Jordan Smith)

The Texas State University-San Marcos Department of Theatre and Dance production of "Vinegar Tom" will run Feb. 11-14 in the PSH Foundation Studio Theatre in the Texas State Theatre Center.

Performances will be 7:30 p.m. Feb. 11-13, and 2 p.m. on Feb. 14.

Written by Caryl Churchill, one of England’s foremost contemporary playwrights, "Vinegar Tom" takes place under the backdrop of 17th century witch hunts and examines the role of women within the male-dominated society of the time. With glimpses of the past and present intermixed, Churchill creates a world filled with both vivid imagery and poignant characters.

"This is a play I feel very deeply about with its themes of violence and abuse towards women and the underprivileged," said Lara Willars, Texas State graduate student and director of the play. "The audience can look forward to intermittent songs throughout the play set in modern times as a sort of social commentary about the themes in the show."

The play deals with mature subjects that may be shocking or offensive to some audience members.

"The play is filled with very unlikable characters, which is why it speaks so loudly to the injustice of witches being accused and murdered for crimes that are everyday activities for people today," Willars said.

Tickets are $8 general admission and $5 for students with a valid Texas State ID. For more information, call (512) 245-2147.