Witch On Stage at COS in Visalia

Mar 5, 2022 | 2022 Articles, Education, Lorie Lewis Ham, Theatre

by Lorie Lewis Ham

College of the Sequoias Performing Arts in Visalia is presenting the play Witch, written by Jen Silverman, on March 17-19. We recently spoke with student director Haley Wallace to learn more.

KRL: Why was this show chosen and how did you learn about it?

Haley: I chose this show because I think a story of its kind is important for everyone to hear and see with its themes of trauma, recovery, and finding new hope. I was introduced to the playwright, Jen Silverman, and their work through my mentor, Chris Mangels. Witch was the second play of Silverman’s that I read through when searching for a show to direct, and by the time I finished reading it, I knew it was the one.

KRL: Can you tell us briefly what it is about?

Haley: Witch is about the balancing act between how much value a person puts on their life as opposed to how much value they put on their soul. It tells the story of six characters who are presented with an opportunity to have the one thing they most desire. The only catch is that they have to sell their soul to the devil to attain it.

KRL: That sounds very interesting. Do you feel this show has a relevant message for our current times? If so, what would that be?

Haley: Absolutely, I do! Hope is a huge theme in the show. Obviously, returning to the world after enduring the trials and tribulations of COVID and being isolated from each other has been challenging. This show brings several perspectives to the surface, showing the struggle of seclusion, loneliness, isolation, and grief.

Haley Wallace

KRL: Is this your first time directing?

Haley: This will be the second show I’ve directed, my first being The Universal Language, a one-act play in David Ives collection, All In the Timing, that we filmed in the spring of 2021. Witch, however, will be my first time directing a full-length show on a physical stage!

KRL: What has been the hardest thing about directing this show?

Haley: The hardest part of directing (and direction in general), has been finding my process and discovering what works for my actors and for myself to help create the best version of our show. It all comes down to relating shared experiences and coming together to find a common understanding of each character, each scene, and eventually the whole show.

KRL: What has been the most fun?

Haley: Collaboration. We’ve worked really diligently to make this show authentic in many ways, from props to costumes, lighting, and staging. Truly, what has been the most fun is working with an amazing team to make discoveries and tell this story, not just from script to stage, but with dance and music, as well.

KRL: How did you first get involved in theatre?

Haley: I’ve been involved in theatre since I was in high school, only ever acting in shows and musicals. When I entered the COS Performing Arts Department in 2019, I started as a costumer backstage. Soon after, I auditioned for my first show, Hookman, and was cast. The rest is history.

KRL: Why did you want to direct?

Haley: Originally, in the fall, I was inspired by how many students and community members wanted to be a part of the performing arts as we re-grew our department. I discovered my love for directing in the spring of 2021 amid the COVID pandemic. Directing was always something I was interested in, but I was too scared to pursue it. I wanted to tell stories of unheard voices with realistic conclusions, and now I’m doing it.

KRL: What was it like directing during COVID?

Haley: Witch has been fairly traditional, with the exception that we did our first week of rehearsal remotely because of the Omicron surge and have stayed masked throughout the process. When I directed The Universal Language, however, Zoom calls were our best friend. I think it motivated us to ask more questions and push to communicate more so that we were always on the same page. Directing virtually was like doing heaps of table work for months on end, occasionally finding aspects of physicality through the screen, but mostly just discussing what blocking would and wouldn’t work. Directing during COVID is an experience I will never take for granted, and it taught me so much.

KRL: Will there be any COVID precautions?

Haley: Because Witch is such an intimate production, it is being performed ‘in-the round’ with the audience sitting on the COS Theatre stage. Audience members will be required to wear masks while in the building and capacity is limited to only 80 seats per performance to facilitate social distancing. While the actors will be unmasked on stage, they will be regularly tested prior to each performance.

KRL: What are the dates, times, and location of the show?

Haley: The show will be performed on the evenings of Thursday, March 17, through Saturday, March 19, at 7 p.m., with a matinee at 1 p.m., as well, on Saturday, March 19. The show will be performed in the round on the COS Theatre stage, 915 S. Mooney Blvd., on the COS Visalia Campus.

KRL: How much are tickets and where can they be purchased?

Haley: Though admission to the show is FREE, patrons are encouraged to reserve tickets in advance at cos.ticketleap.com/witch since seating is extremely limited.

If you love local theatre, be sure to check out Mysteryrat’s Maze Podcast, which features mysteries read by local actors. You can find the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, and also on podbean.

Check out more theatre reviews & other local entertainment articles in our Arts & Entertainment section.

Lorie Lewis Ham is our Editor-in-Chief and a contributor to various sections, coupling her journalism experience with her connection to the literary and entertainment worlds. Explore Lorie’s mystery writing at Mysteryrat’s Closet. Lorie’s latest mystery novel, One of Us, is set in the Tower District of Fresno and the world of community theatre!

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