A Dazzling Spectacle: A Conversation With Rachel Lemon, Julia Grogan And Lydia Higman For GUNTER Ahead Of Royal Court Theatre Run | The Fan Carpet Ltd • The Fan Carpet: The RED Carpet for FANS • The Fan Carpet: Fansites Network • The Fan Carpet: Slate • The Fan Carpet: Theatre Spotlight • The Fan Carpet: Arena • The Fan Carpet: International

A Dazzling Spectacle: A Conversation With Rachel Lemon, Julia Grogan And Lydia Higman For GUNTER Ahead Of Royal Court Theatre Run

12 March 2024

Based on the true story of a witch hunt in 1604, Gunter takes a moment of thrilling, forgotten history and turns it on its head. Using live music and dazzling spectacle, Gunter interrogates the art of performance and who holds agency in storytelling. It explores male power, ego and the way suspicions of the supernatural were weaponised to oppress women, in this real-life tale of abuse and fear set in the idyll of a country scarred by witch trials.

Directed by Rachel Lemon. Cast includes:Julia Grogan, Norah Lopez Holden (Hamlet (Young Vic)), Hannah Jarrett-Scott (Pride and Prejudice (*sort of), Outlander), Lydia Higman. 

In this interview, Dirty Hare discusses their creative process, the story’s historical roots, and what audiences can expect from the performance...



How would you describe Gunter? 

Rachel: I would describe Gunter as an explosive, caring and rigorous reconstruction of Anne Gunter’s story. It is bodily, strange and full of life. It is probably too loud - but we think more is more is more. I would describe Gunter as a love letter to Anne Gunter, as an attempt to recover her. It is a process of wrestling with the archives; grappling with the records, with forgotten history and memory. 

Why did you want to tell this story? 

Lydia: I first read Anne’s story during my history undergrad and was floored by it. I couldn’t believe the fallout of events - how calculating her father was, how high the stakes got, how unimaginably scary (and or thrilling!?) it must have been for her. There was something automatic about the story-telling aspect of it because it was rooted in such clear aspects of human behaviour (the desire for power, ego, masculinity, elite vs popular thinking). I think in the first instance the desire to tell the story came from the fact that the story was an unbelievable one. 

Following this, I think there is an inherent theatricality to the spectacle of possession that felt like a big exciting challenge for us. It was a big unlocking to think of Anne as a performer on her own terms - she was demonstrating her so-called ‘possession’ to a room of people who came to watch to be entertained/horrified/moved… There’s a historian called Brian Levack who wrote a great thesis on this. Connecting those dots to Anne’s story was a big unlocking. 

You talk about how ‘history rhymes’. Please could you expand on this, and how it connects to this play?

Lydia: This is actually a quote from Maragret Atwood - it’s a clever take on the age-old cliche that history ‘repeats’. I suppose the notion of rhyming is slightly subtler, and requires more attention to (and interrogation of) our context. Of course history can’t literally repeat - circumstances are too varied, the world changes too much, the 16th century is unrelatable in so many ways... Yet there are consistencies in behaviours and power structures that rhyme if you’re listening. That’s what is striking about Gunter - the circumstances are wildly different to the world we recognise, but there is a rhyming pattern to Anne's experience that is darkly familiar today. 





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