Kath, The Wicked is a historical comedy-drama, founded on the life of Lady Katherine Ferrers (the Wicked Lady and first cross-dressing Highwaywoman). Katherine Ferrers (Kath) believes she has lived quite a brilliant kind of life and decides it must be a play. So, in typical, fashionable highwaywoman-style, Kath loots, possesses, and terrorizes a modern university theatre group and forces them to put on a show. Kath crudely recounts and guides audience members on the remarkable aspects of her life. However, during the performance, Kath encounters repressed feelings she never thought she would have after seeing some old faces. And as the play progresses, Kath starts to uncover multiple facets of herself and her identity. Dark aspects that she thought nobody would recognize or expose. But the show must go on!
Kath, The Wicked is a play that demands energy, vulnerability, and self-reflection of both its characters and its audience. We explored how theatre offers a new lens in our interpretation of historical figures and challenges the balance between fact and fiction through action, body, and life. We resurrected marginalized groups that many historians have tried to erase. Through comedy, we explored serious and pressing issues such as feminism, raising awareness of sexual assaults, self-awareness as impacted by poverty, fragility, and historic exploitation, letting go of gender norms, normalising cross-dressing, and many more.
Kath, the Wicked was a dream come true for everyone who worked on this project. For some of us, it meant the opportunity to try something new and put our knowledge to practice. For some, it meant improving skills. For all of us, it meant doing something we love and sharing it with anyone willing to come and take a look inside our hearts.
Kath was about pure passion. The most important thing that bound this team together was our common belief in this project. Everyone had a very personal reason to be involved, which meant we all gave life to Kath using our own. Passion is what drew support from teachers, IATL, friends, family, and strangers. Even before hearing what Kath was about, people often mentioned being touched by how passionate we all were. Indeed, passion is what saw this project through from the very first words the writer put on paper years ago, to the rehearsal process and final performances.
It was not easy. We had several issues to deal with, from heat waves and even more heated fights, to booking mix-ups, to everyone getting sick, to changing performance dates, to very long rehearsals, and so on. Overcoming each problem brought us closer together and reinforced our belief that both this project and we as individuals are worth it.
Kath was also about honesty and expressing our true selves in the most authentic way possible. We made it our goal to stay open and honest with each other, and always communicate our worries, thoughts, and creative ideas. If someone didn’t want to share with the group, they always had the option to talk privately to the producer, director, wellbeing officer, outside counsel, or fill out an anonymous report form. That meant a great deal towards getting us to open up to one another and build trust as a team. We managed to create a safe, equal working space, where everyone’s ideas built the very foundation on which the project stood.
Kath was about making an impact. We all worked for what we believed in. We can’t know if everyone who came to see our final product liked it. In fact, surely some didn’t. But no matter what their views were, we succeeded in engaging everyone, and that’s the most important thing. Sparking something in our audiences, big or small, good or bad, is what we aimed for in the first place. Everyone left the performance talking about it, and for that, we feel grateful.
We want to especially thank Saul Hewish and David Coates for their belief and involvement with this project. And of course, many thanks to IATL. We could not have done this without their support. We strongly encourage people to apply for funding and put their ideas to practice. Experience is a great way to learn not only about the field you are involved in but also about yourself.