First Read Through of Witchfinder

“If we can feel the energy on a zoom, imagine it in person!”

Today should have been the first day of our residency at Walpole Old Chapel, which annoyingly had to be postponed due to Lockdown 2.0. Not to be undone, we marked the occasion with an online read through of Witchfinder with (almost) all of the cast, playing snippets of recordings of the songs as we went.

This was the first time the cast had met as a whole, some being very familiar, and others not so. Under the expert nurturing guidance of our director Emma Bernard the cast read through the newly drafted script and we briefly dipped our toes into initial discussions surrounding character, narrative and form.

Even in this first read, the relationship between arch baddy Matthew Hopkins (Kit Esuruoso) and his two sidekicks John Stearne (Chis Vince) and Mary Goody (Sharon Eckman) showed particular potential. Questions surrounding motivation for Hopkins’ extremist behaviour will be one of the first aspects to explore when we meet in person at next month’s residency, together with when and how public opinion is turned against him.

Did it matter that the read through was on Zoom? This was the first time many of us had experienced a read through and creative discussion within an online space. Certainly not a substitute for the real thing, but perhaps highlighting elements that might be missed in person; the medium putting particular emphasis on text, tone and expression. The most exciting outcome of our first ‘meeting’ – if we can generate this much energy in a virtual space, what might we achieve in a physical one?

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