The play opens in live meeting of the Queer Witch Facebook group. Admins of the group, Pala, Mabel and Juno encourage the audience and the play’s other characters to introduce themselves by their spirit names and use their phones to look up their ancestral land acknowledgement. (One can find out their land acknowledgement by going to www.native-land.ca) The purpose of the meeting is the celebrate the winter solstice but it is quickly derailed by Asriel who asks about why no one is talking about the Facebook posts where a New Orleans group member offered to sell human bones for the cost of shipping. The group quickly devolves as accusations are made, but no one but the moderators know the true story. All that is known is that someone leaked the private Facebook posts onto Twitter, and now the story has gone viral. This makes the group a very in unsafe space.
Elsa (Elizabeth) speaks directly to the audience as time changes to the present. She admits to leaking the information to Twitter in an effort to catch the offending witch, named Jadis, and keep them from selling any more bones. Flashbacks are used to hear what the posts actually said - which further complicates the accusations. We go back to the live group meeting, who over time discover that the entire meeting has been live-streaming on Instagram. There is a mole in the group, but no one knows who it is.
In the present, Elsa (Elizabeth) admits to the audience that she may have made a mistake streaming to Instagram, taking things too far. She begins to start her own research into the truth behind the bone theft by interviewing Nas, a group member who happens to live in New Orleans. She also interviews Jadis by pretending to be a lawyer, thus getting key privileged information.
After the Facebook group is formally disbanded, Elsa (Elizabeth) interviews the group members, with all lamenting the loss of the group. Group admin Pala decides to call everyone together to reinstate the group with new rules, and promises a special guest will be joining. After new boundaries are set by the remaining group members, Jadis walks in and shocks the group by their presence. They first notice Elsa, who they know as their lawyer, Elizabeth. And just as Elizabeth is about to be outed for good, it is revealed that she had turned over the evidence to the police and Jadis is violently arrested after being followed to the meeting. Pala fervently defends Jadis and the group determines that Pala needs to step down. Only a vote can save them, which is put to the audience. One by one the group members determine that the Queer Witch group is never going to provide the safety and community that they want, and they slowly drop out.
In the end, in their guilt and sorrow for all that has happened Pala, Jadis and Elizabeth hold a vigil for Jadis, who had disappeared from the public eye (both online and in life), thus “killing” their spirit. They muse on the importance of pushing for safe and collaborative spaces though they may never be possible.
Reviews and Audience Response for THE QUEER WITCH CONSPIRACY (online reading):
“This extraordinary offering is the best Zoom-based work we've seen yet -- it's deeply moving, theatrically entrancing, and politically meaningful. Note that it's available on demand through June 28th. Our highest recommendation for this weekend!” —Ronald Gross, NY Theater Buying Guide
“The Queer Witch Conspiracy compellingly and without sanding off its characters' rough edges traces the fault lines that this controversy exposes within one intersectional community as well as the larger issues of inequity onto which they open...The cast comfortably inhabits these complex characters: alongside Peacock as the group's sympathetically flawed mother wolf and Browne as their somewhat tightly wound second-in-command, Wozniak and Ketter bring, in different registers, some comic moments, while a tense emotionality permeates a pair of scenes featuring Cronican opposite Montoya and Cronican opposite Walker.” —John R. Ziegler and Leah Richards, Thinking Theater NYC
“A Powerful Delivery that Gives Space to Underrepresented Communities in THE QUEER WITCH CONSPIRACY...No spoilers as we consider over here that everybody needs to watch this... What a thrill that this pandemic brought more online performances and Zoom performances that, although they do not beat a live, "sharing breath" in person performance, it surely is thought-provoking and damn well creative. Bravo to The Seeing Place for offering this opportunity to keep the educating conversation going.” —Alejandra Enciso, From Another Zero
“Designed with a precise Zoom delivery in mind, this new captivating play, written from a clever combative stance by Brandon Walker (The People vs Antigone) navigates itself through a convoluted dark pathway through a graveyard in order to reveal the mystical psyches involved...It’s a solidly twisted Zoomed adventure, orchestrated to make us feel, pretty successfully, like secret curious hungry flies on the candlelit wall, desperately hoping for a juicy bit of controversy to spill out for us all to devour with glee. As directed with force by Erin Cronican, The Queer Witch Conspiracy tries with all its might to unpack the mystical controversy that true-to-life spiralled outward with a wildly uncomfortable and fascinating force online over communal, possible misguided, cultural appropriation and the ethical/unethical observance of Louisiana burial rites that ultimately sparked the internal and online revolution that sits and streams before us.” —Steven Ross, FrontMezzJunkies
“There is an incredibly difficult balancing act being beautifully achieved by The Queer Witch Conspiracy... makes for a thought provoking evening of theater.” —Blake Weil, No Proscenium
“I find it a very intriguing use of the platform...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.” —Louise Penn, Lou Reviews
“The show is very creative and thought-provoking. I’d be curious to see it staged in a live theatre to see how that impacts the viewing experience.” —EM Reiter, Talk Theater To Me
• FREE WITH YOUR TICKET - October 18, 2021
(immediately following the performance)
Speakers: The Cast and Creative Team of THE QUEER WITCH CONSPIRACY Theme: Writing Plays for Diverse Casts
This talkback will enable audience members to talk directly to the artists who created THE QUEER WITCH CONSPIRACY about their experiences with the play and its relevance to our modern times.
• FREE TALKBACK RECORDING
Speakers: Leah Ramillano and The Outreach Team at The Seeing Place Theme: ACTION STEPS - Making Online Spaces Safe
This talkback enabled audience members to hear community experts talk about the themes of the play and how they relate to our immediate situation in the world. We also brainstormed on ways that YOU can make a difference.
About Our Speaker:
Leah Ramillano (she/her) is a Filipino-American Scenic Designer and Storyteller based in Southern California. She is CAD III Associate draftsperson for Mattel, Inc.'s Tradeshow Service Department and also freelances as a scenic design assistant, scenic artist, and draftsperson. She holds her Masters of Fine Arts in Scenic Design from the University of California, Irvine and is a co-founder of the ever-growing Facebook group "Theater Professionals of Underrepresented Genders." Leah's philosophy is to always align your integrity as a person with your integrity as an artist, and therefore honoring the sacred responsibility of telling stories honestly.
"Theater Professionals of Underrepresented Genders" honors the intersection of theatrical disciplines and identities. It is a place for underrepresented genders, of all races, religions, and abilities, to connect about challenges, successes, questions, and collaborations. It is a place to get and give support as well as hold each other accountable to be allies for each other. This group was born from being the only marginalized and underrepresented gender in the room one too many times and feeling like we were placed in a space that was not shaped for or by us. Their hope is that this will grow into a strong worldwide network, from funding and production, to casting, hiring, and viewership.