The Burning follows the lives of the women and their witch hunters in an epic story through time, history, capitalism, and the consequences of societal fear when faced with change.
Hi Roberta thanks for talking to TNC, how's everything going?
Really well, thanks. We finished a week-long R&D on the show recently - we had a great time.
How does it feel to be bringing The Burning to Edinburgh Fringe?
Really exciting. It’s great to be back with Incognito and a brand-new show that is delving into new territory for the company.
Are there any nerves ahead of your Fringe run?
Just the usual, mainly to do with audience reception. It’s great to have a couple of previews to ensure the show is landing the way we intended it to.
Can you tell me a little bit about The Burning, what can we expect?
The play looks at how the European witch hunts influenced our modern-day perceptions of women and power. It also looks at how capitalism impacts our relationship to the natural world.
We tread various timelines, from 15th century to 21st century Britain, examining how our ancestors shape us. It’s all told through heightened physicality and gorgeous live music by Phoebe Parker. It’s going to be quite a visceral 60 minutes!
What was the inspiration behind The Burning?
I read feminist academic Silvia Federici’s book that looks at the history of women, capitalism and how the medieval European witch-hunts impacted the future of gender dynamics. This prompted a further excavation into where the word “witch” comes from and how it has impacted our view of women in society throughout the years.
What have been the biggest challenges bringing this show to life?
There is so much information we have collected. We’re covering a lot of ground in 60 minutes and so condensing centuries of historical accounts has been the main challenge. Choosing which stories to tell, which narrative threads will impact an audience most strongly. As much as it has been challenging, it is also undeniably fun and invigorating.
"It’s such an important part of an artist’s career: to keep evolving and learning."
What is like working with such an incredible all-female team?
Absolutely empowering and inspiring. We’ve created such a safe space which means we dig into themes and ideas quicker. They’re such individuals and yet very generous and collaborative in the rehearsal room.
During the progress of making The Burning what are some of the strangest things, you have discovered about the societal use of the word ‘witch’?
In the Middle Ages, the word “wicche” was non-gendered. One of the documents to gender the word was Heinrich Kramer’s “Malleus Malificarum” (1487) - misogynistic even by 15th century standards.
What 3 words best describe The Burning?
Fierce and fiery.
Have you always had a passion for theatre?
Yes, at least for storytelling, in whatever form that may take.
Has your style and approach to creating your shows changed much since you started?
I hope so. It’s such an important part of an artist’s career: to keep evolving and learning.
What has been the best piece of advice you've been given?
Don’t go to sleep angry.
Do you have any advice you would offer a fellow theatre maker?
Make as much as you can. Meet people. Find your collaborators, the people that challenge and inspire you.
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from this show?
A feeling of empowerment to make the change they want to see around them.