The Magician seducing our penitent woman.
What we want, initially, physically, materially is that the play be experiential. We want to invite the audience into/onto the stage. Let's pierce that veil of disbelief and not know the difference together. The narrator is a magician a la George Melies though he is also described as an Alfred Hitchcock of a man: sour, sweet, pathetically charming and modestly powerful. He greets us before a large curtain. Does he tell the story of how he seduced the penitent woman "that made her to become a witch"?
Michaelis, Sebastian, "The Admirable Historie of the Possession & Conversion of a Penitent Woman, Seduced by a Magician that made her to Become a Witch", trans. W.B., London: William Aspley, 1613
I say Yes, he tells this story! (R.'s proposal to present this monologue at the show with Misfits coverband?).
Who I imagine to play the magician/seducer/narrator
His is our preface into the narrator's mad tale. A tale of deceit, a tale of love, a woman possessed by the devil. I've found an article (A Woman Under the Influence: A Case of Alleged Possession in Sixteenth-Century France) in the ninth volume of a twelve volume anthology titled "Witchcraft, Magic and Demonology" (A Garland Series) which will work well to inform the plot, characters and possible structure of our narrative. fig. 3
Who I imagine to play the Anne Chevreau character, the seduced, the woman accused.
Who I imagine to play the Marthe Brossier character, our victim perhaps not of witchcraft but of 16th century conventions against the single woman.
Marthe Brossiers claims to have been demonized by Anne Chevreux, a neighbor. The neighbor is arrested and sent to prison awaiting trial. Fortunately for her, by this point , roughly ninety-seven years after the end of the Medieval Ages, the church and the courts were growing more suspicious to claims of witchcraft (though not too suspicious to follow through with a full investigation) our imprisoned Anne Chevreux (AKA "Witch") is not tortured and made to confess to having f.u.c.k.e.d. the devil on many occasions, &c then set on fire at the center of town. Instead she is let to journal and write a lengthy letter addressed to the Bishop of Paris, where she hypothesizes that Marthe Brossier "began playing the demoniac as a way to recover her honor." Marthe Brossier, the third eldest of five daughter, is a victim, Anne Cherveux defends, of society's (late 16th c.) imprisonment of the unmarried woman. Third in line along the Brossier's shriveled marital umbilicus, Marthe Brossier knows full well she will never lead a "normal" adult life. She has been sentenced to live out the rest of her life with her four unmarried sisters under her father's rule. The same man, Jacque Brossier, who by 1598 was a ruined man financially & socially. Marthe Brossier hadn't too many options. If she couldn't be married to a man then she could seek to become a Bride of Christ. But because of her father's financial difficulty securing the necessary dowry for this marriage as well, he and the Abess of Religions at Glatigy "could not come to an agreement" writes Anne from her prison cell and because of this Marthe became "more depressed than ever".
Late 1597, France:
Marthe Brossier runs away. First she hides in a local (Romarantin) church then is found several days later in a small town 12 miles away. She is wearing men's clothing and has cut ofof all her hair. Cross dressing such as this from female to male was usually (medieval) associated with withcraft, but this was a social crisis for the entire Brossier family.
Marguerite de Navarre's essentials of female honor:
gentleness, patience, chasity
Was Marthe spoiled with all three?
So, claims Anne Chevreau (and I repeat this), Marthe Brossier began to play the demoniac as a way to recover her honor and encouraged by her father for fear of further trouble for the further actions of his wayward daughter. By claiming to be possessed by the devil, by attacking Anne Chevreau in church with the accusation and embarking on a year long career as an "itinerant demoniac", exorcised by the cure' of Romorantin (he introduced her to the "successful possession" story of Nicole d'Orby in 1566, and through this account she learned the names of devils and how to bark) before large crowds of physicians, theologians and perverts. Eventually the public disorder in Paris of her exorcisms led to public intervention by the state.
"Traité des énergumènes et discours sur la possession de Marthe Brossier."
Translated using online translator:
"Treaty of the rowdy characters and speech on the possession of Marthe Brushmaker."