Vinegar Tom

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The Swarthmore College Department of Theater and Senior Company 2009 present British playwright Caryl Churchill's 1976 play Vinegar Tom on the weekend of December 5-7, 2008. Originally written for the feminist British theater troupe, Monstrous Regiment, Vinegar Tom explores contemporary issues of classism and sexual prejudice through the lens of witchcraft in 1600s England. The play will be performed in the Frear Ensemble Theater in the Lang Performing Arts Center (LPAC), with performances on Friday and Saturday, December 5 and 6 at 8 pm, and on Sunday, December 7 at 2 pm.

Author of over 20 plays and known for her non-naturalistic style, Caryl Churchill has received much critical attention in England and the U.S. since the beginning of her stage writing career in the early 1970s. Known as a politicized writer of her times, Churchill's plays have taken on everything from gender relations to post-9/11 geopolitics.

In Vinegar Tom, the audience witnesses the witch trials, both literal and figurative, of women who do not conform to the standards of "proper" female thought and practice: a teenage woman who refuses to get married is treated for "hysteria"; an ostracized elderly woman is humiliated publicly for cursing a working couple who refuses to provide her with cooking ingredients. Replete with rock & roll songs breaking up the central action of the piece, Vinegar Tom is unrelenting in positioning the witch hunts of the past next to current trials that women face.

The production features nine student actors: Colin Aarons '09, Cara Arcuni '09, Jackie Avitabile '09, Jessie Bear '09, Jesse Paulsen, Haverford, '09, Miriam Rich '11, Sasha Shahidi '09, Isa St. Clair '11, and Elena Viboch '09.

Vinegar Tom is directed by Jackie Vitale '09, dramaturged by Stephen Graf '09, and features lighting and set design by Kim Comer '09, original music and sound design by Daniel Perelstein '09, and costume design by Allison McCarthy '09.

Each performance will be followed by a reception in the lower lobby of LPAC with the cast and other members of the 2009 Senior Company. The performances are free and open to the public without advance reservations. For further information about the production, contact Liza Clark at lclark1@swarthmore.edu or (610) 328-8260.