What started as an interest in an ancestor, then turned into a one-woman show is now going to be a short film.
Lori Prescott Hansen wrote and performed the one-woman play called “I Be A Witch” in 2021. It’s based on her 11th great-grandmother named Ann Foster who was convicted of being a witch in 1692 in Salem, Massachusetts. Hansen performed it in Rexburg and in Ogden, Utah. She says the response was tremendous, but it was a pair of friends who saw her Utah performance who brought up the idea of a film.
“I thought, ‘That’d be great!’ But you know how you say thinks and you think, ‘Yeah, wouldn’t that be cool?’ And the next thing I know they are writing a screenplay version of it and we were meeting together and setting down details and a schedule and low and behold it’s really going to happen,” Hansen said.
The idea is taking real shape. Matthew and Cherie Julander, who own Grizzly Smith Media in Orem, Utah, wrote the screenplay and are already making the set. A cast is soon to be announced. They plan to shoot the film in May. There is also an Indiegogo fundraiser for $15,000. So far, the project has about $6,000 after about two weeks.
“It really makes me feel a sense of obligation to do the justice because people have donated quite a lot of money and so I want it to be the best that it can be for myself, because she’s my ancestor, but also because of the work other people are putting into it,” Lori said.
Cherie, as it turns out, is also a descendent of Ann Foster and even played the role of Elizabeth Proctor in the BYU-Idaho production of “The Crucible” in 2003.
“We keep doing things about witches,” said Omar Hansen, Lori’s husband.
Omar is a retired theatre professor from BYU-Idaho. He says theatre is a collaborative process and to see how relationships formed at BYU-Idaho have continued and are now contributing to this project.
“The BYU-Idaho contingent of this is pretty strong,” Omar said. “The Theatre Department at BYU-Idaho produced just some amazing, amazing artists and a number of them will be in this production.”
The film will premiere in Rexburg and Salt Lake City in September. Then they’ll enter the film into film festivals around the country. They believe the film will resonate with audiences for years to come because of its special message.
“Even though her story is really unique, it’s quite universal also because, you know, the prejudice, the labeling, the ‘otherness’ that people were labeled as back then, it still goes on today just as much if not more,” Lori said. “We think we’re not capable of doing something that those people did in the Salem days and that’s just not true, we do it all the time.”
Lori hopes people will reflect on their personal situations after seeing the short film. Maybe they’ve been labeled as the different one or label other people as the other one. Then they can change that for the future.
Lori says even when the film comes out, she’ll continue to perform the original one-woman play, though no dates are set yet for performances.
To learn more about the Indiegogo campaign for “I Be a Witch,” click here.