‘Vinegar Tom’ to recognize witch hunts in Puritan era

By Megan Ruge Asst. living and arts editor

The Susquehanna University Department of Theatre will open “Vinegar Tom,” on Dec. 8 at 7:30 p.m.

“The play tells the story of three women in the 17th century [England] who are accused of being witches,” sophomore Rachel Heide said. “You, the audience member, learn about their struggle and get to decide for yourself whether or not you truly believe that they are witches.”

During the show the audience will see the plot unfold from the perspective of multiple townspeople who are part of the witch hunt, Heide said. Between many of the episodic scenes are songs that reflect on events in the show.

The show’s theme can be debated by the audience, but Heide has an idea of her own.

“I would say the theme is belief or believing,” Heide said. “The show depends a lot on the idea of people’s belief in witches and whether or not the three women are actually witches.”

She added that the play will leave audiences thinking about its nature and messages. The show will allow the audience to ponder the nature of sexism and social issues in that specific time period and how it shaped the events that happened.

Junior Rebekah Krumenacker, a “Vinegar Tom” cast member, commented on the how the show conveys this message.

“There are two male characters in the show, one is played by a male and the other is played by a female,” Krumenacker said. “The men are very controlling in this show; they have the power to be like ‘you’re a witch, we’re going to hang you or kill you,’ so it’s very interesting that that role is then played by a woman.”

Krumenacker said there are two other males in the cast who act as narrators, but they narrate for the women in the show.

The show not only speaks about sexism in the 17th century but in today’s society as well.

“Men still have more rights than women in some extent with the wage gap, and often people will still trust a man over a woman. In day-to-day life, women still do get treated differently,” Krumenacker said.

“I think it’s important to know that you can’t just call someone out to avoid your problems. Everyone has rights and no one should be oppressed for being different,” Krumenacker continued.

“Sexism is not something that ended in the 1900s; it is still happening today,” Heide said. “Although it has changed its shape, it is there and we must not ignore it.”

Though the show contains this light on social issues, the cast wants the audience to know that this show is not meant to attack or offend, but it is meant to inform and entertain.

“We aren’t trying to bash men or anything,” Krumenacker said. “It’s more that we are trying to make people aware of what went on that we had no idea about… there is so much more that we don’t know. There are so many ways that these women were tortured and manipulated.”

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