Lipstick Theatre’s witchy comedy “Sunrise Coven” focuses on idea of healing


Joanne Haner/The Daily Northwestern

“Sunrise Coven” cast members stand hand in hand during dress rehearsal.

Annie Xia, Reporter

Lipstick Theatre’s upcoming production “Sunrise Coven” conjures themes of healthcare access from a brew of quirky characters. The group will put on four shows this Friday and Saturday in Shanley Pavilion.

In the play, a middle-aged nurse works with the local witch to illegally provide affordable prescription drugs for the town’s residents by using the coven as a religious front. Over the course of the play, genuine magic intertwines with the medical world.

Communication junior and Director Kara Toll explained how their double major in global health and theatre helped her search for a story involving healthcare.

“Studying global health gives me a lot of perspective about issues I’m really passionate about,” Toll said. “Finding ways to incorporate that into my storytelling makes me incredibly excited.”

For Weinberg sophomore JoJo Holm, one of the set designers, theatre has the power to explore the show’s ideas of medicine more persuasively than scientific information.

She believes that the emotional appeal of art like “Sunrise Coven” will impact people’s opinions on topics such as universal healthcare more than just learning facts on the subject, Holm said.

“A lot of science isn’t accessible to the general population,” Holm said. “Scientists don’t know how to communicate their ideas. With art, it’s all about communicating your ideas. If you can’t make the audience feel something, you haven’t done your job.”

Communication sophomore and the show’s producer Frances McKittrick described how the show conveys the message that medicine exists in more forms than the Western conception.

She added the play bridges between Eastern and Western medicine, as well as alternative practices like witchcraft.

“All walks of people can be healers,” McKittrick said. “Witches are healers. Veterans are healers. Moms are healers.”

Not only does the play emphasize taking care of people, but its production is centered on the need to take care of the environment and the importance of sustainability. The organization did not buy anything new for the show — all props, costumes and stage pieces were bought secondhand, borrowed or sourced from other theatre groups.

The two eight-feet-tall shelves were constructed out of wood from The Dolphin Show’s set for “Merrily We Roll Along.” The giant curtain was patched together from borrowed bed sheets and the curtain from the Jewish Theatre Ensemble’s fall production. The stethoscope was coincidentally purchased by Holm’s mother at a garage sale last summer.

Communication freshman Arwen-Vira Marsh, who plays the witch, described the sentiment they hope the audience will feel after walking away from the show.

“I really hope they have someone they want to give a call and say, ‘Hey, I’m wondering how you’re doing,’” she said. “And if they don’t have someone, at least feeling like they were seen in all of us characters on stage.”

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