By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Oct 24, 2023 at 11:31 AM


"We're caught in the web of a thing our parents built, our grandparents and grandparents of our grandparents, and so we're building it now, too. We don't know how to do anything other than keep building even as the strands wrap tighter and tighter around our necks, we keep building... So if there's no stopping, no changing, no way to escape then you have to wipe the slate clean and start again. Let's start again, OK?" - "Witch" by Jen Silverman.

Renaissance Theaterworks is known for its high quality, edgy and boundary breaking performances, and it's upcoming "Witch" is no exception. It's also extremely timely for the season.

The whip-smart subversive fable, written by Jen Silverman and directed by Suzan Fete, is hilarious yet dead serious with dialogue as sharp as a ceremonial athame. It weaves the tale of a sweet-talking, salesman-esque devil who shows up in town to convince residents to sell their souls in exchange for their darkest desires or pettiest wishes.

But the devil is challenged by the one person he believes will be the easiest to convince: a woman named Elizabeth Sawyer who lives reclusively after being labeled by the community as the town "witch." 

"Everyone says she has seven teats and a scar like a pentagram and she dances with the devil in the pale moonlight."

"Witch," published in 2022, is a loose adaptation of a 1621 play called "The Witch of Edmonton" written by Thomas Decker, William Rowley and John Ford. It upcycles the classic into a timeless, new story with modern language that's most likely set in the present day. 

“Witch is funny…really funny. But, there’s truth in comedy. Have you ever said to yourself or others ‘I would give {blank} if I could have {blank}?’  The feeling of fulfilling your deepest, even darkest wishes is universal," says Renaissance Theaterworks Marketing Director Sarah Hwang.

The story brilliantly portrays what it's like to really be a witch through a character who never describes herself as such – yet she embodies the characteristics of one.

"Nobody sits in my cabin but me."

In modern day and among empowered women, a witch is no longer derogatory or a green-skinned, wart-wielding, cackling crone. The word has been reclaimed as a positive term by women with an inner fire, meaning those who think for themselves, act on their own swiftly and powerfully and harbor compassion, hopefulness and support for others. They recognize the unrelenting power of the patriarchy and that it isn't something they can change, but something that they can transcend to a new place of equality.

"You want me to sell you my soul. Men make it sound like they're doing you a favor when what they really want is a favor done for them."

"Witch" runs Sunday, Oct. 22 through Sunday, Nov. 12 in their new performance space, 255 S Water St. (It is also home to Next Act Theatre.)

On Friday, Oct. 27 a special presentation will take place immediately following the play. Two local women who identify as witches and started a coven together 20 years ago will perform an abbreviated Wiccan ritual based on their real rituals for the audience to witness and, if they so choose, lightly participate.

The women will then host a Q&A where the audience can ask questions to find out more about Paganism, Wicca and witch culture in general – all of which have been dangerously misunderstood for centuries.

"We look forward to, for the first time, offering the general public a glimpse into one way that a ritual is performed by witches and hopefully in the process, demystifying the misconceptions about what might happen at one. We wish to give our honest view of what it means to be a witch," says Luna, who will co-lead the ritual. 

To purchase tickets for any of the Witch performances, including the special presentation performance on Friday, Oct. 27, go here.

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.