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Betrayed by a mother, a lover, her son’s lover, society, and the vicious lies that Prospero has foisted on the world, Sycorax makes an excellent case to the gods for revenge. Inspired by, but independent of, Shakespeare’s The Tempest, this powerful monodrama offers a profound meditation on persecution, vengeance and forgiveness.














"Inspired by William Shakespeare’s classic play, The Tempest, Y York’s Sycorax is a powerful …[that] wrestles with major themes of revenge and forgiveness while noting how race, gender, and discrimination ultimately impact the fate and representation of the character. In an unbelievable solo performance, the brilliant Demene E. Hall assumes the titular and only role of the play, offering a … more nuanced interpretation of the character, utilizing themes of racial and sexual oppression to challenge the audience to redefine their preconceptions of good and evil, lest they be confined to understand history as written by the victor." – Robert Horton, Drama in the Hood

"There’s a Shakespeare play, The Tempest, that many people are familiar with. It has several “magical” characters, one of which is Caliban, who is described as a monster, and the offspring of a witch named Sycorax. Prospero, a noble deliberately shipwrecked (by rivals) on an island with his daughter says Caliban is “a freckled whelp hag-born--not honour'd with a human shape” and calls him filth and a slave. When Prospero first came to the island, Caliban helped him learn how to survive there, but years later, Prospero treats him terribly. Y York conceived of a new way of looking at Caliban through his mother. What if, she considered, Sycorax was dark-skinned? What if Caliban was also dark-skinned? What if their lives were considered immaterial and the reasons they are labeled a “witch” and a “monster” were because of skin color and not because of actual inhuman features? York has crafted a one-woman play, called Sycorax, starring talented actor Demene E. Hall, to explore this concept. She has placed Sycorax, as a ghost, on the island where The Tempest takes place. Sycorax is furious with Prospero, who has killed her son, Caliban, and finds a magic cloak perhaps belonging to the sprite Ariel, but is prevented from using it to visit her wrath on the ship Prospero is sailing away on. So, she appeals to the Gods to allow her to use the cloak. She perceives that the Gods may not know her story and that telling it might persuade them that she deserves her chance to use Ariel’s cloak. So she begins to tell a harrowing tale of betrayal, mistreatment, and marginalization ... Hall gives a powerful, classical performance. She speaks as if her lines were written in classic Shakespearean form, though the language by York is more accessible ...The unfolding of her tale also changes her, maybe in the speaking of it, as she realizes that Caliban, now dead, might show up on the island as a ghost, himself. This realization creates a key shift in her perceptions, which also changes her request to the Gods. The play asks questions about love and forgiveness and power and privilege. In a short hour, many of these themes are explored in interesting ways. You only have a couple more performances to see this worthy piece. It may well be produced in a lot of other English-speaking theaters, and you get a chance to see it now, before it’s “done everywhere.” -- Miryam Gordon

Sycorax was developed through a series of readings and workshops with actor Demene E. Hall during 2016 and 2017, culminating in a public reading at 18th & Union (Seattle) in July 2017. The play premiered October 6, 2017 at 18th & Union with Demene E. Hall in the title role and the following staff:

  • Mark Lutwak, director

  • Denise Kaye, stage manager

  • Andrew Lee Creech, dramaturg

  • Frances Kenny, costume design

  • Ryan Dunn, lighting design

  • Johanna Melamed, sound design

  • Mark Lutwak, set design

  • Music performed by Joe Casalini, Lesli Dalaba & Mark Lutwak

Sycorax was developed further with actor Chelsea Harrison at New Dramatists, in New York City in November 2017 and Demene E. Hall in Seattle in winter 2017.


The revised script of Sycorax was mounted at 18th and Union in May 2018 with the above staff except:

  • MaryKate Moran, stage manager

  • Maren Comendant , lighting design

This production was invited to perform at the Last Frontier Theatre Conference in Valdez, Alaska on June 13, 2018. At rehearsal on June 10 in Valdez, Ms. Hall was struck seriously ill and was unable to perform. Y York & Mark Lutwak read the play for the audience, accompanied by projections of Ms. Hall performing the play. Demene E. Hall died on June 27, 2018 in Seattle, Washington.

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