Brandon Walker’s play The Queer Witch Conspiracy, produced by The Seeing Place, is based on a true story known as “Boneghazi”, and begins its Zoom presentation with a regular meeting of queer witches, in which the audience are invited guests.
I am watching the on-demand version, which lacks the interactivity of a live Zoom call, but I find it a very intriguing use of the platform. As Pala (Jon L Peacock) outlines the need for a safe space, fake names, and displayed pronouns, the other main characters join the meeting.
Mabel (Laura Clare Browne) is the argumentative one, displaying a certain amount of ennui in her surroundings. Willow (Weronika Helena Wozniak) is very wedded to the idea of community and support, while Elizabeth/Elsa (director Erin Cronucan) is the one who destroys the very place and surroundings she values by her behaviour.
Asriel (Will Ketter) seems skittish and out of place, while Nas (James Montoya) shows a mercenary streak when away from the main group. Finally, Jadis (played by Walker, who is also responsible for the sound design), is the sacrificial lamb, the outsider, led to destruction by the actions of the others.
There are large issues at stake here, not just about gender identity and safe spaces, but also the land grabs of the ancestral United States, the ancestral significance of bones, brutality, authority, history and acceptability.
This is a lengthy piece but a very intelligent one, which I was quite prepared to watch in stages but then found myself glued to for the entire running time. The use of Zoom for group meetings and clandestine calls as Elsa tries to gain the incriminating information to eject Jadis from the collective, and the reference to social media breaches of Twitter threads and Instagram Live broadcasts, is deftly done.
The Queer Witch Conspiracy played live then on-demand until 27 June. For more about The Seeing Place Theater (an actor driven company whose ethos is “… engaging our community in a vivid conversation about what makes us human. Connection. Learning. Humanity. That’s what theater is all about”, go here.