The Witching Way is currently under development as part of my ongoing collaboration with Ali Matthews.
The Witching Way is a magical coming-of-age rock opera for the next generation of gender-bending, bully-foiling feminists.
On the cusp of adulthood, it is no secret that W. is a little different, a little odd, a little queer, even. You would expect no less from a witch, right? A long path is about to unwind before her. Will she join the local band of weirdos or take her ancestor’s demise as a cue to live under the radar? Part-fable, part coming-of-age story, part gig, this DIY rock opera is a rallying cry for the next generation of feminists.
What to do with such a band of bovine butch?
Run away or fight with muscled ammunition?
This question has echoed throughout the years
Swift retreat or more war of attrition
There is a third way, it’s to use alchemy
Of conversation. There’s a world in
Weaknesses are strengths and hostility dissolves
Into the air like condensation.
Extract from the original song: ‘The Battle of Bull Lagoon’
Following on from the success of our 2015 Busker’s Opera, I am once again joining forces with Ali Matthews to create a new DIY musical extravaganza. The Witching Way tells the story of W., a teenager born and raised a witch, on her journey towards empowerment.
After trying to be someone she’s not, amidst peer pressure, W. is transported to a cottage in a strange and wondrous landscape. In order to find her way home, she must embark on a quest to reckon with her history, overcome extraordinary obstacles and ultimately find her voice. With musical genres spanning punk, folk, blues and drone rock, The Witching Way features a live band, music video visuals and animation to deliver a magically-charged rock opera for all ages.
On the witches’ way
To begin developing this performance, Ali and I dove deep into histories of oppression, and were keen to acknowledge the particular part our home of Lancashire had to play in this. Before we set out to write the show, we chose to retrace the so-called Pendle Witches’ footsteps and walked from the Pendle Heritage Centre to Lancaster Castle. We covered over 60 miles in just four days, and our journey was as challenging as it was rewarding, even beyond the physical undertaking! A number of unexpected and gently out-of-the-ordinary events went on to inspire the writing of the show in ways we had not expected…
The Witching Way is now
The Witching Way is being created from a desire to transform the lives of young people, and in particular young women. The project’s themes engage with the histories of women as workers, entrepreneurs and scapegoats, and make links with contemporary forms of feminist protest against bullying and trolling. The vision is to inspire and empower young women, using creativity as a tool to promote change and motivate the next generation of feminists to be fierce in the pursuit of their goals.
In light of last summer’s attacks on audiences at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester (most of whom were queer teenagers and/or teenage girls), and the increase in awareness around the prevalence of sexual harassment, we are more committed than ever to creating a safe and empowering space for young feminists through the transformative power of a live concept album. Our show will exist somewhere between a radical after school club and an intimate audience with a rock star from another world.
“Peer pressure works a lot like a blackmail ruse
Do what I say and it’s okay I won’t tell them all your secrets
Oh she made me do it
Like a bullet can blame the gun
The games she started playing
Are a web and I am spun”
Extract from the original song: ‘Bullet/Gun’
This project is currently in development after a successful period of R&D supported by Arts Council England, the Lowry and University of Salford. It is devised by the company with:
Adam York Gregory (video design and animation), Peter Stevenson (illustration and folklore consultancy), George Adams (witchcraft consultancy), Sophie Galpin (drums, violin and arrangement), Ellis Davies (guitar and arrangement), Sashwati Mira Sengupta (accordion), Julia Nelson (bass), Cheddar Gorgeous & Liquorice Black (costume design consultancy), Jennifer Taylor & Julie Brown (producing advice).