A Bala Cynwyd native, Molly Lang wrote They’ll Be Callin’ Us Witches, a play that explores adolescent rage, violence and devilry, pushing the boundaries of morality and power.
At first glance, witches and Jews don’t have much in common.
But through her research, Molly Lang found a lot more similarities than she expected.
A Bala Cynwyd native, Lang wrote They’ll Be Callin’ Us Witches, a play that explores adolescent rage, violence and devilry, pushing the boundaries of morality and power.
She spent the last year writing the story with an all-female cast that follows three young women in rural Massachusetts, 1692.
One night, the group of misfits try to cast a spell to summon some sort of entity, whether based on the Christian idea of the devil or some other type of demon.
The project was born out of several different ideas, but a lot was based on Lang’s own fascination with Arthur Miller’s work.
“The play deals with the archetypes of the witch,” explained the 22-year-old. “A fair amount of research went into anti-Semitism and medieval England and the early colonies. And that sort of crossroads with being society’s scapegoat.
“There’s so much unknown anti-Semitism in the archetype of the witch that I hadn’t known all about before I started really delving into it.”
As with medieval England, where she discovered that the most common perceived causes for the bubonic plague were witches — and Jews.
“[The play] draws on my long-term fascination with this mythology of the witch in Western civilization as well as adolescent rage,” she continued. “I started writing it last summer at a time where there was a huge chain of [mass] shootings all in a row, and my mind was sort of very focused and drawn to examining that adolescent rage and violence and feelings of disenfranchisement through this story — of being outsiders, of being unaccepted.”
Also a Lower Merion High School grad, Lang became involved with the theater community at just 7 years old, working her way up to companies like Gas and Electric Arts and BCKSEET Productions.
She graduated from New York University Tisch School of the Arts in May with a degree in drama.
Her all-female theater ensemble, Queen Mab’s Men, will perform the show. (For those who may not recall the Shakespeare reference on first glance, Queen Mab refers to Mercutio’s speech in Romeo and Juliet, a metaphor that Lang said reflects on an “all boy’s club” and “wildness and abandon” — so to claim it as their own, Lang’s group is comprised of recent female Tisch grads.)
This is Lang’s first piece since graduating, as well as a homecoming for the Bala Cynwyd native.
For her, Lang’s homecoming “means a return to all the people who built me up and grew my passion over the years before I went to New York. I was involved in theaters in communities in Philadelphia, and [I was] supported by all these artists throughout my teenage years and my middle school years, by my synagogue, Mishkan Shalom,” she remembered.
Lang recalled a small production the synagogue put on for Yom HaShoah when she was about 14. It was a big ceremony, and the kids put on a small, shortened version of Children of Terezin, a play about the final days of imprisoned children at a concentration camp.
“I remember the impact of the piece on me and the impact on the audience. It’s such a small, thrown-together, scrappy kind of thing, but I never before that moment felt that kind of movement in the audience, that response to a piece,” she said.
They’ll Be Callin’ Us Witches will premiere as part of FringeArts at the Arden Theatre Company’s Arcadia Stage — specifically, Sept. 10 at 6:30 p.m., Sept. 11 at 4:30 p.m., Sept. 12 at 9:30 p.m., Sept. 13 at 6 p.m., Sept. 14 at 9:30 p.m. and Sept. 15 at 7 p.m.
“We’re all very excited to return to Philadelphia,” Lang added. “It’s a huge honor, especially to return and have so many people from my synagogue and my childhood come see my first piece. We really put a lot of heart into it, and we hope it speaks to people.”
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