The Supernatural : Previewing ‘The Coven’

James Culhane 7 February 2022
Image Credit: Molly Evans, Alex P.C.

Producer James Culhane introduces us to the world of this week’s Corpus Lateshow.

The Coven is a play that answers many questions which I’m sure you all have. It goes to places that many shows are fearful of, like Hell. We don’t fear hell. We don’t even need to combine it with Heaven. We embrace Hell. My father was from Hell. And you can see that, too.
The first big question which ‘The Coven’ answers is simple: what are witches? This is a question which many plays have previously tried to answer, such as Arthur Miller’s ‘The Crucible’ and ‘The Witches’ by Roald Dahl. These plays both failed…massively. ‘The Crucible’ had too many motifs, distracting from the main theme of witches. ‘The Witches’ took the opposite issue, and focused on witches too much. They never really defined what witches truly were. ‘The Coven’ though, tackles this issue head-on.

By having a series of actors, whom we found, we can tell the story in new and exciting ways.

Importantly, we decided to perform this play with actors. This, I think, was one of the bravest decisions to have taken for the show, allowing us to use their ability to pretend to be other people to tell the story of the show. Without this choice, we would have just read the script to the audience in the hopes that they would get what was going on. By having a series of actors, whom we found, we can tell the story in new and exciting ways.

We first met in Rhode Island in 1998, working for a mysterious but talented businessman by the name of Ralphie Crawford. While the business wasn’t always clean, and it was a rough life, it bound us together in ways that wouldn’t usually have been possible. While we were there, we encountered a series of magical figures, such as Jaz Bumbleford, a mega mage and an informal advisor to Crawford, and Marge Bossman, the most successful witch I’ve ever seen in my whole life. She may be unconventional but, damn it, she’s good. Together with them, we built the biggest business empire since the Roman Empire. It wasn’t to last, but goddamnit it was special.

We’re out here pushing the boundaries of what is possible, of what is tasteful – of what people will willingly watch.

These experiences inspired Barnaby ‘M’ Evans to write ‘The Coven’, bringing together our experiences with some of the less successful witches we encountered, along with Scottish folk singer Graham McHazell. After the torment of ADC deadlines, we found our old director and made this absolute work of madness come to life.
A key theme of the coven is that of Shrek 2. Shrek 2 was a big part of our creative process. Whenever we ran out of ideas of what to do, we just watched Shrek 2 and copied what they did. While it was difficult to animate some of our real-life actors into green ogres, it’s all part of the service here at ‘The Coven’. We’re out here pushing the boundaries of what is possible, of what is tasteful – of what people will willingly watch.
This show was built from tragedy, agony and boredom. These are all emotions you can feel if you come and watch the show. Come and see ‘The Coven’ next week and it will blow your mind. ‘The Coven’ is going to blow your mind, push your boundaries, and make you question what you’ve been doing with your life (in a good way). Come see ‘The Coven’. ‘The Coven’, yes. Coven now. ‘The Coven.’

You can see ‘The Coven’ by Barnaby M. Evans at 9.30 from the 8th – 12th February in the Corpus Playroom. Buy tickets here: https://www.adctheatre.com/whats-on/play/the-coven/