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Study Guide Objectives This study guide serves as a classroom tool for teachers and students, and addresses the following Connecticut curriculum standards for grades K-12: • English Language Arts o 2.4: Exploring and Responding to Literature. Students recognize that readers and authors are influenced by individual, social, cultural, and historical contexts. • Theatre o 5: Researching and Interpreting. Students will research, evaluate and apply cultural and historical information to make artistic choices. o 6: Connections. Students will make connections between theatre, other disciplines and daily life. o 7: Analysis, Criticism and Meaning. Students will analyze, critique, and construct meanings from works of theatre.

Guidelines for Attending the Theatre Attending live theatre is a unique experience with many valuable educational and social benefits. To ensure that all audience members are able to enjoy the performance, please take a few minutes to discuss the following audience etiquette topics with your students before you come to Hartford Stage. • How is attending the theatre similar to and different from going to the movies? What behaviors are and are not appropriate when seeing a play? Why? o Remind students that because the performance is live, the audience can affect what kind of performance the actors give. No two audiences are exactly the same and no two performances are exactly the same—this is part of what makes theatre so special! Students’ behavior should reflect the level of performance they wish to see. • Theatre should be an enjoyable experience for the audience. It is absolutely all right to applaud when appropriate and laugh at the funny moments. Talking and calling out during the performance, however, are not allowed. Why might this be? o Be sure to mention that not only would the people seated around them be able to hear their conversation, but the actors on stage could hear them, too. Theatres are constructed to carry sound efficiently! • Any noise or light can be a distraction, so please remind students to make sure their cell phones are turned off (or better yet, left at home or at school!). Texting, photography, and video recording are prohibited. Food and gum should not be taken into the theatre. • Students should sit with their group as seated by the Front of House staff and should not leave their seats once the performance has begun. If possible, restrooms should be used only during intermission. 2

The Playwright: John van Druten John William van Druten was born in London in 1901 to Dutchman Wilhelmus van Druten and his English wife, Eva. He attended University College School and the University of London, where he studied law before becoming a solicitor and university lecturer in Wales. While teaching law and legal history at the University College of Wales in 1925, he wrote his career-changing second play, Young Woodley. The Lord Chamberlain’s office banned the play in England due to its perceived attack on the British public school system, but Young Woodley received rave reviews in New York and the ban was soon lifted. Van Druten shifted his focus from law to the theatre, and by the end of the 1930s, was one of England’s most successful playwrights, known for his light, witty comedies. Van Druten’s success continued when he immigrated to the United States in 1940 and became an American citizen in 1944. He wrote a total of 28 plays and numerous screenplays, including The Voice of the Turtle (1943), which ran for 1,557 performances over three seasons in New York. It is currently the 49th longest running show (9th longest running play) in Broadway history. As a playwright, van Druten eschewed the conventional wisdom Playwright John van Druten. that writers do their best work in quiet, serene, natural settings. In a 1952

“A removal of one’s sense of a DELIBERATELY CREATIVE, WISHFUL SELF is the thing that all of us need most.” —John van Druten (“How a Play is Born”) article in The New York Times, “How a Play is Born,” van Druten described inspiration as spontaneous in nature, occurring without warning in all sorts of times and places. “I have never known where to turn for [ideas],” he wrote. “I have learned that I cannot turn anywhere and that I must wait for them to happen.” Van Druten saw the characters he wrote not as coming from within himself but rather from outside of himself. When faced with the need to write a scene and uncertainty of what that scene should contain, van Druten reported simply sitting down at the typewriter and saying, “Let’s see what happens,” thus framing himself as a partner with characters, not as their creator. This philosophy was key to van Druten’s writing process. “When I have used that phrase ‘Let us see what happens,’” he said, “I have a sense of turning to something outside myself. Yet I know, too, that what I am listening to comes from within me, although I cannot hear it unless I forget that fact.” Van Druten’s theatrical career extended beyond playwriting to include the role of director for the premiere productions of many of his plays (including Bell, Book & Candle) and for the original Broadway production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical, The King and I. Some of van Druten’s plays have found 3

additional life in adaptations and re-imaginings: Bell, Book & Candle is said to be the chief inspiration for the American sitcom, Bewitched, and his play I Am a Camera (adapted from Christopher Isherwood’s book, The Berlin Stories) was the primary source material for the Kander and Ebb musical Cabaret. Van Druten also authored two autobiographies, The Way to the Present (1938) and The Widening Circle (1957), as well as Playwright at Work (1953), a book about the craft of playwriting and his experiences writing for the theatre. John van Druten died in California in 1957 at the age of 56.

Plays by John van Druten The Return Half (1924) Young Woodley (1925) Chance Acquaintance (1927) Diversion (1928) The Return of the Soldier (1928, based on the novel by Rebecca West) After All (1929) London Wall (1931) Sea Fever (with Auriol Lee, 1931) There’s Always Juliet (1931) Hollywood Holiday (with Benn W. Levy, 1931) Somebody Knows (1932) Behold We Live (1932) The Distaff Side (1933) Flowers of the Forest (1934) Most of the Game (1935) Gertie Maude (1937) Leave Her to Heaven (1940) Old Acquaintance (1940) Solitaire (1942, based on the novel by Edwin Corle) The Damask Cheek (with Lloyd Morris, 1942) The Voice of the Turtle (1943) I Remember Mama (1944, adapted from the memoir, Mama’s Bank Account, by Kathryn Forbes) The Mermaids Singing (1945) The Druid Circle (1947) Make Way for Lucia (1948) Bell, Book & Candle (1950) I Am a Camera (1951, adapted from Christopher Isherwood’s The Berlin Stories) I’ve Got Sixpence (1952)


Themes for Discussion Secret Truth

For years, Gillian Holroyd has maintained a philosophy of only using magic in ways that can be easily explained away, thus keeping the secret nature of the witching world intact. “They look like coincidences. They have to. You can’t do it any other way,” she says in Act II, Scene 2 of Bell, Book & Candle. Witches cannot just “bring Niagara Falls down to Grand Central Station, or turn the house into the Taj Majal. It doesn’t work that way. There’s always a rational explanation—if you want it.” Hiding from the public is a necessity for those with supernatural powers, many of whom fear being outed to the non-magical world. Gillian’s brother Nicky “used to wonder when [he] was a kid why all the witches in history were always poor and miserable old men and women, living in hovels, when you’d have thought they could have had anything they wanted” (I, 1). But witch-hunts such as the Inquisition made it impossible for witches to be truthful about their identities, and as a result, they formed a fairly discreet, tight-knit community, with an organized leadership hierarchy, their own cafes, bars, and restaurants, and even communal living spaces for those who want them. Rumors of the witches’ secret society fascinate author Sidney Redlitch, whose next book, to be titled Witchcraft Around Us, focuses on exposing the secret truth that exists right underneath New Yorkers’ noses. Having studied witches in-depth, he believes he can easily spot them and has correctly identified many of the locations where witches assemble. REDLITCH: Well, then there are the places where they hold their meetings. You think of witches meeting on a blasted heath, don’t you . . . One of their main places is up in Harlem. It’s an old vaudeville house. There’s another down in the Village. And sometimes they have them in a suite of offices on the top of the Woolworth Building. You’d be amazed what’s going on under your nose that you’d never suspect. Talk about spy-rings and organized vice—they’re nothing compared to it. SHEP: What do they look like? The witches, I mean? REDLITCH: Like anyone else. Like you—or you—or you. (He points to each in turn.) (I, 2) Redlitch plans to use his book to expose much of what he has learned about how witches operate, but he also understands that many witches may not take kindly to his making their secrets public knowledge. Redlitch has taken precautions to protect himself, firstly by not publishing any witches’ names in his book. But he has made other arrangements, as well. “There’s a woman,” he tells Gillian, Shep, and Nicky, “pretty high up in the movement. She’s considered about the best there is. Well, I’ve got her on my side . . . I shouldn’t give her name though she’s pretty open about it.

TIMELINE—WITCHES IN HISTORY • 2000 BC—The Code of Hammurabi instructs Babylonians that “If a man has laid a charge of witchcraft and has not justified it, he upon whom the witchcraft is laid shall go to the holy river; he shall plunge into the holy river and if the holy river overcome him, he who accused him shall take to himself his house.” • 700 BC-100 AD—The Celts worship a god and a goddess, and use potions and spells in their naturebased religious beliefs. • 3rd Century AD—In the pre-Christian Roman Empire, the State institutes execution by burning as the official punishment for witches who use magic to cause someone’s death. • 5th Century AD—St. Augustine of Hippo declares that all pagan magic and religion were created by the devil to lure humans away from the truth of Christianity. He also states that it is not possible for human beings to possess supernatural powers and therefore, the Church should not concern itself with tracking or investigating allegations of witchcraft. • 906—Abbot Regino of Prum writes the Canon Episcopi, which condemns 5

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any belief in witchcraft or in the power of sorcerers to transform people into animals as heretical. 1080—Pope Gregory VII sends a letter to King Harold of Denmark in which he forbids the execution of witches believed to have caused storms, crop failure, or pestilence. 1184—The first Inquisition is set up in Languedoc, France, to prosecute heretics. 1275—The first execution of a witch as a result of an inquisition is carried out in Toulouse, France. 1312—The Knights Templar are accused of heresy and witchcraft. 1374—Pope Gregory XI declares that all magic is done with the aid of demons. 1401—At the insistence of Archbishop Thomas Arundel, the English Parliament passes “De hæretico comburendo,” the first parliamentary act specifically targeting witchcraft. It declares that all varieties of witchcraft and sorcery are forms of heresy and those witches who did not reject these beliefs should be burned at the stake. 1484—Pope Innocent VIII condemns all witchcraft as Satanism. 1486—German Catholic Inquisitors Heirich Kramer and Jacob Sprenger publish Malleus Maleficarum (The Hammer of Witches)

Kind of flaunts it. Some of them do, you know. Go about dressed up so that people will recognize them. You may have seen this woman” (I, 2). Though Gillian is peeved by Redlitch’s association with the woman, who is clearly her rival, Bianca de Pass, Gillian is more distraught by Nicky’s decision not only to help Redlitch with his book, but also to confess to Redlitch that he is “one of them.” When Nicky comes to Gillian for help with cross-checking the details of witchcraft’s manifestos, she initially tells him to simply make it up, believing that the book, and Nicky’s involvement with it, is nothing but a joke. But it soon becomes clear that Nicky is completely serious and that if Gillian’s secret identity were to be exposed, the relationship she has built with Shep could be in jeopardy. GILLIAN: What? Nicky, you’re not giving him the truth... You don’t mean he knows about you? NICKY: Of course. You’ve no idea the things I’ve shown him and told him. GILLIAN: You didn’t tell him about me? NICKY: No, darling. I told him it was I who summoned him. But if you want to take credit . . . GILLIAN: (Interrupting, angrily.) I do not want to take credit. Oh, Nicky, why—why do you do this? Don’t you know by now it never pays to tell outsiders. (II, 2) When Nicky refuses to give in to Gillian’s demand that he not move forward with the book, Gillian, desperate to preserve her secret, makes one last threat in Act II, Scene 2: “Now, will you bring me every copy in existence, or am I going to have to go to work? You know I can, don’t you?” Nicky, however, matches Gillian spell for spell, and when Shep learns the truth Gillian has been hiding from him, his reaction is precisely what Gillian feared. With Shep gone, Gillian discovers that her feelings for him are deeper than she realized and that a whole new set of emotions overcomes her. Aunt Queenie suggests summoning Shep in Act III, Scene 2, so they “could tell him what’s happened,” but Gillian, not sure of whether it is pride or shame that motivates her, is resolved to keep it a secret. “Tell him?” she says. “I’d go to any lengths to stop his finding out” (III, 2).

Questions: • Compare and contrast the witches of Bell, Book & Candle with the accused witches of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, which was produced at Hartford Stage earlier this season. What secrets are kept in each play? What are the similarities and differences between the characters investigating incidents of witchcraft? How are suspected witches identified? Why are certain people more likely than others to be suspected of being witches in both plays? • Why does Mrs. de Pass choose to deliberately draw attention to herself if it means people will suspect that she is a witch? What does it mean to “hide in plain sight?” Is that was Mrs. de Pass is doing or are there other factors contributing to her eccentricities?

Why does Mrs. de Pass’s openness about her identity and her willingness to help Sidney Redlitch with his book make Gillian so angry? • If Nicky had not interfered, would Shep have ever found out the truth about Gillian? Why or why not? • When Redlitch refers to secret “spy-rings and organized vice” in Act I, Scene 2, to what is he referring? What does Shep mean when he asks Gillian in Act II, Scene 2, if she has “been engaging in un-American activities?” • When someone is thought of as different or outside of a community’s expected norms, how are they treated? How is this similar to the way the witches in Bell, Book & Candle are viewed? Are there any groups of people in today’s society who keep part of their identity a secret? Why do they do this? Are certain groups of people ever accused of having a particular secret identity? Whether they turn out to be true or not, why do these accusations arise?

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Abuse of Power

“It’s habit-forming . . . It’s like pulling rank, or abusing influence. And it can destroy you as a person,” Gillian Holroyd says of magic in Act II, Scene 2 of Bell, Book & Candle. Gillian is a powerful witch who has refrained from using her magical abilities to gain an unfair advantage over those around her—but she could if she wanted to. Her brother Nicky reports that Gillian “admitted to [him] once that she could hex the whole Stock market if she wanted” but did not go through with it because “she was afraid of the repercussions” (I, 1). It is just that every action has an equal and opposite reaction, and magical actions in John van Druten’s play are no exception. Despite her convictions, Gillian finds herself tempted by envy to use the special advantage her powers give her. When she discovers that Shep Henderson, her handsome upstairs neighbor, is engaged to Merle Kittredge, her college rival, Gillian wonders for a moment in Act I, Scene 1 if she could steal Shep away from Merle “without tricks,” but the knowledge that Shep and Merle’s engagement announcement is imminent compels Gillian to choose the sure bet. Before long, her plan begins to unravel, and Gillian finds herself using one self-serving spell after another in an effort to prevent Shep from learning the truth about their relationship’s Kate MacCluggage as Gillian Holroyd in origin. As magic compounds itself Hartford Stage’s production of Bell, Book & Candle. Photo by T. Charles Erickson.

in which they assert the Church’s duty to hunt down and execute witches. Due to the recent introduction of the printing press, the book is reprinted many times and is the primary handbook on witchcraft into the 18th century. 1515—500 accused witches are burned at the stake in one year in Geneva, Switzerland. 1526—Nearly 1000 witchcraft executions are carried out in Como, Italy. 1532—Witchcraft is described as a criminal offense in the German Empire. Execution by burning is listed in the penal code as punishment for acts of witchcraft that harm another person. 1583—Over the course of three months, 121 people are burned as witches in Osnabruck, Germany. 1583—Englishman Reginald Scot speaks out against the witch hysteria in his book, The Discoverie of Witchcraft, in which he states that the prosecution of accused witches is un-Christian and tries to prove how supposed acts of magic were done. 1591—James VI of Scotland authorizes the use of torture in the questioning of suspected witches. 1597—James VI of Scotland publishes Daemonologie, a treatise on witchcraft. 1603-1606—William Shakespeare writes 7

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MacBeth, in which three witches inform MacBeth that he will become king and show him visions of the future. The elements of witchcraft in the play may have been crafted to suit the interests of James VI, who had been crowned King James I of England. 1609—La Suprema (the ruling body in the Spanish Inquisition) forbids all discussion of witchcraft with its “Edict of Silence.” 1610-11—William Shakespeare writes The Tempest, a play about the rightful duke of Milan, Prospero, who gained magical powers through great learning. His servant, Ariel, is a magical spirit who was imprisoned in a tree by the witch Sycorax but was freed by Prospero. 1641—English law designates witchcraft as a capital offense. 1643-1645—The largest witch hunt in French history takes place. 1647—English witchhunter Matthew Hopkins publishes The Discovery of Witches. In the book, Hopkins details how he came to be a witchfinder in 1644 when he overheard several women discussing their meetings with the devil. The techniques Hopkins used in his witch hunts included sleep deprivation and the “swimming test” in which

upon more magic, Gillian starts to fully comprehend what she already suspected was true: that there are very real, very painful consequences to manipulating mortals with magic. “This is what happens to you,” she says. “You think you’re getting away with something Nicky (Michael Keyloun), Aunt Queenie (Ruth Williamson), and Gillian (Kate MacCluggage) in Hartford Stage’s and you forfeit almost production of Bell, Book & Candle. everything” (II, 2). Gillian’s self-serving abuse of power is not surprising to the other witches in the play. “With us, it’s like the Saints . . . only the other way around,” Aunt Queenie explains in Act II, Scene 2. “At least that’s what the books say. Saints love everyone. Just everyone. With no thought of themselves. But with us, it’s just the contrary.”

Questions: • Why does Gillian decide to go ahead with putting a spell on Shep, when she herself has said that magic gives witches an unfair advantage and that if she were successful, she would be “getting away with something?” • Aunt Queenie uses her powers to bypass Shep’s locked door and snoop around in his apartment, Nicky uses his powers to turn off Shep’s phone, and Mrs. de Pass uses Shep’s need for her magical help for financial gain. What consequences, if any, do these three characters suffer? How are their abuses of power different from Gillian’s? • If you were born with magic powers, how would you use them? Do you agree with Gillian that “it’s like pulling rank, or abusing influence?” How is the ability to perform magic similar to and different from any other talents, skills, and abilities you have?

Rivalry and Revenge

What do you do when it turns out that the obnoxious girl you couldn’t stand in college is engaged to your cute upstairs neighbor? What do you do when your boyfriend’s publishing company has the opportunity to score a famous client from its biggest competitor? What do you do when you find out that your brother is planning to spill your biggest secret to the entire world? And what do you do when a “third-rate, vulgar, self-advertising, mail-order sorceress” is interfering in your fabulous, enchanted life (III, 1)? If you are a smart witch like Gillian Holroyd, you pull off your most powerful spells to manipulate, outwit, and overpower your opponents. But in Bell, Book & Candle, nothing is that simple when magic mixes with rivalries, both old and new.

Shep Henderson is engaged to Merle Kittredge, but little does he know, his downstairs neighbor, Gillian, has decided that the wedding is not going to happen. Merle is an old rival of Gillian’s from college and though Gillian does not consider herself the type of woman who steals other women’s men, when it comes to Merle Kittredge, Gillian is willing to make an exception. Gillian initially believes that using magic to do it “would take the challenge out of it. Especially with [Merle]. Other girls can make men like them in a week,” so why shouldn’t she be able to do the same (I, 1)? But the news that Merle and Shep plan to announce their engagement that very night spurs Gillian to take drastic, magical action, a choice that creates complications when Shep discovers the truth. “I promise you she wouldn’t have used magic, if she’d had time for the usual feminine methods. No matter how great enemies she and Miss Kittredge were,” Aunt Queenie says in Gillian’s defense (II, 2). Clues as to the truth of his relationship with Gillian are everywhere, but Shep is ignorant to them. He is even unknowingly the beneficiary of Gillian’s magic as she helps him steal a client from a rival publisher. When Shep discovers that Gillian has been traveling in Mexico, he is instantly curious about whether she had met famed occult author Sidney Redlitch. “I’m a publisher,” Shep tells her in Act I, Scene 1. “I wish I had [published Redlitch’s book]. It sold like the Kinsey Report . . . It was sensational . . . I heard that Redlitch was ready to change publishers, and I’d kind of like to be his next one. I’ve written to him several times, but I got no answer.” So when Gillian has the opportunity to use an enchanted Christmas gift from her brother to summon someone, she chooses Redlitch. When Redlitch shows up at Gillian’s apartment, Shep sees his opportunity. “I really am interested [in your book],” he tells Redlitch in Act I, Scene 2. “I understand your contract with Seldens is just about up . . . I wish you’d lunch with me and my partner one day.” Shep is not the only one who sees opportunity in Redlitch’s presence. Nicky immediately begins assisting Redlitch with his next book on witches, revealing himself as “one of them” and providing insider information. This does not sit well with Gillian, however, who worries that any public disclosure could jeopardize her standing with Shep. Their opposing goals fuel a sibling rivalry and a supernatural struggle that Gillian is determined to win. “Shep doesn’t know about me,” she tells Nicky in Act II, Scene 2, “and he’s not going to.” But when Nicky still refuses to stop the publishing of Redlitch’s book, Gillian decides she has no choice but to act. GILLIAN: Very well then, I’ll have to do something about it. NICKY: You don’t mean “pull one?” I thought you’d retired? GILLIAN: Yes, I have. But I’ll make a farewell appearance to stop this! (Act II, Scene 2) Nicky, however, is ready with reinforcements. He and Redlitch have the support of Mrs. de Pass, an influential local witch. Gillian’s disdain for

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a suspected witch was tied to a chair and thrown in the water, based on the belief that witches renounced their baptism, and therefore, would float when the water rejected them. 1647-1697—The Connecticut Witch Trials prosecute 35 people for witchcraft and execute 11. May 26, 1647—Alse Young is hanged as a witch in Windsor, Connecticut. It is the first execution of a convicted witch in the American colonies. 1682—A Tryal of Witches, a pamphlet detailing the 1662 witchcraft trial of two widows in Bury St. Edmonds, Suffolk, England, is published. The case is used as a precedent for the admission of spectral evidence in the Salem Witch Trials ten years later. 1682—Temperence Lloyd is the last person ever executed as a witch in England. 1682—King Louis XIV prohibits witchcraft trials in France. 1688—Goodwife Ann Glover is hanged as a witch in Boston, MA, after she is convicted of bewitching a 13-year-old girl and her siblings. 1689—Cotton Mather, the minister of Boston’s Old North Church, publishes his book, Memorable Providences, Relating to Witchcrafts 9

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and Possessions, in which he details the case of Goody Glover and describes the symptoms of bewitchment. January-October, 1692— The Salem Witch Trials take place when a group of villagers, mostly preteen and teenage girls, begin behaving strangely and accuse other villagers of bewitching them. More than 200 people are accused of witchcraft and 20 are executed by the time the hysteria ends. 1736—England abolishes witchcraft as a criminal offense. 1749—The last German witchcraft trial is carried out. 1793—The last execution for witchcraft in Europe takes place in Poland. 1837—Danish author and poet Hans Christian Anderson writes The Little Mermaid, which features a Sea Witch who sells the title character a potion that will give her legs but take away her tongue and beautiful voice. June 13, 1884—Gerald Gardner, the founder of Wicca, is born near Liverpool, England. 1900—L. Frank Baum publishes his book, The Wizard of Oz, featuring the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda, the Good Witch of the North. February 4, 1938— Disney’s animated film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is released, featuring the Evil Queen

her college rival, Merle Kittredge, is topped only by her contempt for her rival in witchcraft, Bianca de Pass, and all she represents. NICKY: We’ve got people on our side, remember? GILLIAN: Mrs. de Pass? Well, I’m better than that old battle-axe. NICKY: Yes, but she can take it up higher. To the big boys. She’ll get the whole organization back of it! GILLIAN: That bunch of phony fuddy-duddies! There isn’t one of them that give anyone a flat tire without having to go to bed for a week! (Act II, Scene 2) When Gillian casts a spell to stop the publishing of Redlitch’s book, Nicky is ready to fight back with his own magic. “Okay, you asked for it,” he threatens. “I’m going to see that your little romance goes on the rocks, my girl. Shep’s going to know all about you. And before the day is out, too” (II, 2). After Shep seeks Mrs. de Pass’s help in removing Gillian’s love spell, Gillian is incensed. “It’s people like her who make me wish we had the Inquisition back,” she says bitterly in Act III, Scene 1, as Mrs. de Pass’s involvement adds extra sting to her loss of Shep. Driven by her rage, Gillian is determined that Mrs. de Pass will not escape her wrath—and neither will Merle. “It’ll cost [Mrs. de Pass] a lot more than five thousand to get out of what I’ll do to her . . . Come to that, there’s Merle, too . . . She’s not going to get him back. Not if I have anything to do with it” (III, 1). But Gillian soon finds that she has overlooked one small, but vital, detail, and the desire for revenge over her rivals quickly gives way to the pain and suffering of true love.

Questions: • Why does Gillian go through so much effort to get revenge on Merle, who Gillian admits she has not thought of in years? • Brother and sister Nicky and Gillian have a good relationship, but are ready and willing to use their powers of witchcraft on each other when needed. How do you think being witches shaped their relationship as they grew up? • Gillian makes several negative comments about Mrs. de Pass and the leaders of a secret witchcraft “organization,” claiming that she is a better witch than any of them. Why do you think Gillian feels this way?

Aunt Queenie (Ruth Williamson) and Nicky (Michael Keyloun) in Hartford Stage’s production of Bell, Book & Candle. Photo by T. Charles Erickson.

For Further Exploration Genre Roles—Romantic Comedies and TV Sitcoms Shep and Gillian are in love. He wants to get married. She thinks it might be too soon. He is confused about why he, the man, is pushing to take their relationship to the next level while she, the woman, thinks things are moving too fast. SHEP: Darling, after the last two weeks, you can’t say, “This is so sudden.” GILLIAN: No, but I hadn’t thought of marriage. SHEP: (Lightly) Darling, that’s the man’s remark—usually. GILLIAN: (Smiling, but half-serious.) You mean you’ve been thinking of it—all along? SHEP: Well, not all along, but—now it’s getting pretty bad. I never knew a man could feel this way. I’m going crazy. I’ve let everything slide . . . GILLIAN: (Keeping up banter.) And how do you think marriage would cure that. SHEP: I don’t know. I don’t care. But we can’t go on like this. GILLIAN: Darling—that’s the girl’s remark—usually! SHEP: You know I’m in love with you. Marriage is the logical next step. Doesn’t it seem that way to you? Gill, why are you ducking this? Tell me, be serious. GILLIAN: I don’t think I’m cut out for marriage, that’s all. (Act II, Scene 1) While the characters’ perspectives on their relationship would not be unheard of today, they created a provocative reversal of expected gender roles in Bell, Book & Candle’s early 1950s setting. During World War II, women entered the workforce in huge numbers, taking on jobs left vacant by the men who were fighting overseas. Between 1940 and 1945, the female percentage of the United States workforce grew from 27% to 37%, with nearly a quarter of all married women working outside of the home. Though women earned only a fraction of what men were paid for the same work, the image of Rosie the Riveter was a symbol of female empowerment, declaring “We Can Do It!” When the war ended, however, and the men came marching home, many female workers returned home, too. Some women made the choice to do so because with their husbands’ return, there was no longer an economic need for them to work outside of the home. Some were laid off to make jobs available for male workers, and others were forced into lower paying or part-time positions. In 1950, the year Bell, Book & Candle premiered on Broadway, the image of women as homemakers was perpetuated by the birth of television sitcoms. Prime time television was dominated by family-

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who disguises herself as a witch to deliver a poisoned apple to her beautiful step-daughter, Snow White. August 25, 1939—The film adaptation of The Wizard of Oz opens. October 30, 1942—The film I Married a Witch debuts. The film is a romantic comedy about an executed Salem witch who is brought back to life and tries to get her prosecutor’s descendant to fall in love with her just before his wedding. 1949-1954—C.S. Lewis writes his seven-book series, The Chronicles of Narnia, featuring the evil White Witch. November 14, 1950— The original Broadway production of Bell, Book & Candle opens at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. It will close on June 2, 1951 after 233 performances. January 22, 1953—Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, which uses the Salem witch trials as an allegory for McCarthyism, debuts on Broadway. 1954—Gerald Gardner publishes his book, Witchcraft Today, in what is frequently regarded as Wicca’s founding event. May 1954—The character of Wendy the Good Little Witch first appears in the comic book series, Casper the Friendly Ghost. After six appearances with Casper, she becomes the focus of her own comic. Storylines about Wendy 11

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frequently center on her aunts’ frustration with Wendy’s insistence on only using her powers to do good. 1958—Elizabeth George Speare publishes The Witch of Blackbird Pond, a children’s historical novel about a teenage girl who finds herself accused of being a witch in Wethersfield, CT. December 25, 1958—The film adaptation of Bell, Book and Candle opens. 1959—Gerald Gardner coins the term “Wicca” in his book, The Meaning of Witchcraft. 1962-1983—The comic book series Sabrina the Teenage Witch follows the life of Sabrina Spellman as she learns how to use her powers and deal with being a teenager. 1964-1972—The TV sitcom Bewitched stars Elizabeth Montgomery as Samantha, a young witch who uses magic to solve her family’s problems. 1965—The song “Love Potion Number 9” performed by The Searchers becomes a #3 hit in the United States. Originally recorded by The Clovers in 1959, the song tells a story about a man who seeks a gypsy’s help with finding love. She gives him Love Potion Number 9, which causes him to start kissing everything in sight. 1970—The Milton Bradley Company

friendly programming that became more and more standardized as the decade went on, depicting nuclear family units with traditional family values living in idealized suburban settings. “The man’s part” was that of family leader, breadwinner, and authoritative decisionmaker. “The girl’s part” was that of mother, caretaker of the family and home, and patient supporter of the husband’s decisions. Unmarried female characters pursued husbands who could provide for them and dreamed of perfect fairytale weddings. Shows like Father Knows Best, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriett, Leave It to Robert Eli as Shep and Kate MacCluggage as Gillian in Hartford Stage’s production of Bell, Book & Candle. Beaver, The Aldrich Family, Phot by T. Charles Erickson. and Make Room for Daddy all featured these types of characters. With these archetypes serving as cultural representations of gender roles, it is no wonder that Shep and Gillian are surprised to find each other wanting and saying things that fit more into the opposite gender’s expected role. While the main characters in Bell, Book & Candle are amusingly conscious that they are bucking the conventions of their time, the basic structure of the play is representative of the light romantic comedies that were popular fare in the American theatre during and after World War II. Many of these came in the form of Broadway musicals such as Carousel (1945), South Pacific (1949), and My Fair Lady (1956), as well as plays like The Philadelphia Story (1939), John Loves Mary (1947), and The Seven Year Itch (1952) and movie musicals like In the Good Old Summertime (1949). Regardless of their format, all romantic comedies are variations on the same essential plotline: • Boy and Girl meet • Humorous complications keep Boy and Girl apart • Boy and Girl reunite, clearly destined to be together The television series Bewitched, which ran from 1964-1972 and drew significant inspiration from Bell, Book & Candle, successfully fused the sitcom and romantic comedy genres; Bewitched focused on witch Samantha, her mortal husband, Darren, and the complications that developed from Samantha’s powers and quirky, magical relatives.

Questions: • In Bell, Book & Candle, witches like Gillian lose their powers if they fall in love. Consider the gender politics of the 1950s. What could Gillian’s loss of her powers represent? What did many real women of the 1950s give up when they got married? • After Mrs. de Pass removes the spell Gillian cast on him, Shep never wants to see Gillian again and leaves. But soon after, Gillian realizes that she has fallen in love with Shep for real, thereby losing her magical powers. Shep knows that witches lose their powers if they fall in love and it is only when he learns that this is precisely what has happened to Gillian that the two reunite. If Shep’s feelings for Gillian were initially the result of a love spell, are his feelings at the end of the play real? Or was Mrs. de Pass unsuccessful in removing Gillian’s spell? • 1950s audiences saw the play’s ending as a satisfying, romantic conclusion. As a modern audience member, do you feel the same way? In the long run, will it be worth it for Gillian to have Shep’s love but not her powers? • Consider the depiction of men and women in contemporary romantic comedies (for example, When In Rome…, The Ugly Truth, Just Go With It, He’s Just Not That Into You, Sweet Home Alabama, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Maid in Manhattan). What do the male and female characters in these films want? What do they do to get what they want? How are they similar to and different from Shep and Gillian? • 1950s sitcoms usually focused on families and home life. Bell, Book & Candle also includes a family—brother and sister Nicky and Gillian, and their Aunt Queenie. How are these characters’ relationships and interactions similar to and different from the way families were depicted in 1950s sitcoms? Research the television series Bewitched. In which characters and storylines can you see connections to Bell, Book & Candle?

MISS HOLROYD: Gillian, what is love like? You know, I’ve never had it. Is it—wonderful? GILLIAN: No—it’s awful! (She bursts into tears.) MISS HOLROYD: Oh, darling! Tears. Real tears. GILLIAN: (Weeping.) Yes, and to think I’ve always envied people who could cry. It feels horrible! (The tears turn into floods.) Oh, Auntie. I don’t want to be human—now! (She sobs in Miss Holroyd’s arms.) (Act III, Scene 1)

• •

releases Which Witch?, a three-dimensional board game set in a haunted house. December 13, 1971—The Disney film Bedknobs and Broomsticks opens, telling a story about three children sent to live with an apprentice witch in WWII England. January 5, 1975—The Broadway production of The Wiz opens at the Majestic Theatre. It will close on January 28, 1979 after 1672 performances. 1984—John Updike publishes The Witches of Eastwick. Set in the fictional town of Eastwick, RI, the book tells the story of three women who discover their magical powers when they are each left by their husbands and fall under the influence of a mysterious man. June 12, 1987—The film adaptation of The Witches of Eastwick opens. November 17, 1989— The animated Disney adaptation of The Little Mermaid debuts, featuring Ursula the Sea Witch. April 23, 1989—The film Teen Witch is released, in which a teenage girl discovers she is a reincarnation of a witch and regains her magical powers on her 16th birthday. 1990-1994—Author Anne Rice publishes the Lives of the Mayfair Witches trilogy, following 13

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the descendants of generations of witches and a demon that haunts them. July 16, 1993—The film Hocus Pocus opens, telling a story about three fictional Salem witches who seek immortality and fly on vacuum cleaners when they are resurrected one Halloween. 1995—Author Gregory Maguire publishes Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, which tells the story of Elphaba, a misunderstood young woman who eventually becomes the Wicked Witch of The Wizard of Oz. 1996-2003—The television series adaptation of Sabrina the Teenage Witch stars Melissa Joan Hart as Sabrina. 1997-2007—J.K. Rowling publishes the Harry Potter series following the adventures of a young wizard and his friends at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. 1998-2006—The TV series Charmed follows three sisters who discover they are descendants of witches and combine their magical powers to fight evil. 1998—Mobs in Indonesia attack and kill 153 people accused of practicing sorcery. July 30, 1999—The film The Blair Witch Project opens. The horror film

Are YOU One of Them? GLINDA: Are you a good witch, or a bad witch? DOROTHY: Who, me . . . I’m not a witch at all—Witches are old and ugly. (Sound of giggling) What was that? GLINDA: The Munchkins. They’re laughing because I am a witch. I’m Glinda, the Witch of the North. DOROTHY: You are! Oh, I beg your pardon! But I’ve never heard of a beautiful witch before. GLINDA: Only bad witches are ugly. —The Wizard of Oz Just as in The Wizard of Oz, it can be difficult to tell who is and is not a witch in John Van Druten’s Bell, Book & Candle. Sidney Redlitch, the famed author of books exposing the supernatural, claims that he could spot one right away. “You couldn’t tell them, but I could,” he tells Gillian and Nicky in Act I, Scene 2, completely unaware that they actually are witches. “It’s a something. A look. A feeling. I don’t know. But if one were to walk in here right now, I’d know.” But Redlitch doesn’t know and it is not until Nicky begins working with him on his next book that he completely comprehends that witches are all around him. Throughout history, witch-hunters such as self-proclaimed Witchfinder General Matthew Hopkins developed procedures for finding witches and criteria for proving their guilt and their participation in supernatural deeds. Of course, the dark, sinister witches Hopkins believed it was his duty to uncover have little in common with the playful family of Gillian, Nicky, and their Aunt Queenie in Bell, Book & Candle. Yet it is hard to imagine that Hopkins and others like him would have looked on the characters’ powers any differently had they been real people living in the 17th century. The following clues and tests were commonly used by witchhunters in their prosecutions of those accused of witchcraft—

Generally Suspicious Characteristics • • • • •

Female Unmarried or widowed Elderly Living alone Local community recently suffered misfortunes such as plague, crop failures, and death of animals

Other Clues • Marks on the body such as birthmarks, boils, skin imperfections (including patches of dry skin), which were believed to be indicators of an unholy alliance • Keeping of pets or animals (the witch’s likely familiars), particularly cats, frogs, pigs, geese, and mice • Talking to oneself • Behaviors identified today as symptoms of mental illness • Being a woman with a strong personality or who defied her time’s conventional expectations for female behavior • Knowledge of herbs and natural remedies

Tests for Determining Guilt • A woman accused of witchcraft who did not cry during her trial was automatically believed to be a witch. • The Swimming Test: Accused witches were tied to a chair or their hands were bound to their feet before they were dropped into a body of water. If the accused floated, it meant the water was rejecting them (as it was believed witches rejected Christian baptism) and they were therefore proved a witch. If the accused sank, it was declared that they were innocent and would go on to heaven with no mark on their soul.

Questions: • Which of the above criteria apply to Gillian, Nicky, and Aunt Queenie? If they were living during Matthew Hopkins’s time, what evidence would he have used to prosecute them for witchcraft? • Which of the above criteria apply to you? Could you have fallen under suspicion for being a witch? • Is Gillian a good witch or a bad witch? Why?

• •

consists of fictional documentary footage shot by film students who disappeared while researching a local legend. June 2001—Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe says he believes that he and his government have been the victims of the black magic of witchdoctors called Sangomas. 2001-2011—The film adaptations of the Harry Potter series are released in the United States. December 2001— Romania’s Parliament passes laws to regulate the country’s thousands of practicing witches. October 30, 2003—The musical adaptation of Wicked opens on Broadway. 2005—The film adaptation of Bewitched is released. 2006—The Harry Potter series tops the American Library Association’s list of the most frequently challenged books. 2011-2012—Hartford Stage’s 49th season includes The Crucible, Bell, Book & Candle, and The Tempest.

Gregor Paslawsky as Sidney Redlitch and Robert Eli as Shep Henderson in Hartford Stage’s production of Bell, Book & Candle. Photo by T. Charles Erickson.


Familiar Spirits GILLIAN: I put on a spell. SHEP: And how does one “put on a spell?” GILLIAN: I used PYEWACKET. SHEP: You mean—you spoke to him about it? And what’s he supposed to do . . . Is PYEWACKET a witch, too? GILLIAN: He’s a—FAMILIAR! SHEP: A what? Oh, yes, I remember, a pet who’s supposed to do his master’s bidding. Gill, what the hell are you getting at? (Act II, Scene 2)


Pyewacket was the name of a familiar spirit listed in the 1647 book The Discovery of Witches by self-appointed Witchfinder General Matthew Hopkins. Three years earlier, Hopkins claimed to have overheard a group of witches meeting near his home in Manningtree, Essex, England. Hopkins arrested a local woman whose name he said he heard mentioned in the meeting and deprived her of sleep in order to ellicit a confession of witchcraft. After four days, the woman did confess, and provided a list of names and descriptions of her familiar spirits. They were: • Holt, a white cat • Jamara, a Spaniel-like dog without legs • Vinegar Tom, a Greyhound-like dog with the head of an ox who transformed into a headless child • Sacke and Sugar, a black rabbit • Newes, a polecat (a type of weasel) • Elemanzer, Pyewacket, Peck in the Crown, and Grizzel Greedigut, all of which were described as imps (small mischievous demons) Hopkins claimed in The Discovery of Witches that he and nine others saw the familiars as the

The frontispiece of Matthew Hopkins’s 1644 book, The Discovery of Witches.

woman called them by name, and while the first five were in the form of specific animals, the others came in forms “which no mortal could invent.” The incident detailed in The Discovery of Witches was the first time that the name “Pyewacket” was attributed to a witch’s familiar. It was not, however, the first mention of witches having “familiar spirits” in animal form. James VI of Scotland, who was later crowned King James I of England, published a treatise titled Daemonologie in 1597 in which he linked witches to specific animals and described familiar spirits as forms taken by the devil to tempt humans into doing his work. While James VI did not list any specific names of familiars, he did describe the spirits as coming “in likeness of a dog, a Catte, and Ape, or such-like other beast.”

Animal familiars appear in many works of literature. Cats and owls are among the most common animals, but familiars are depicted in numerous forms with varying degrees of magical ability. For example: • The three witches in William Shakespeare’s MacBeth reference their familiars, named Greymalkin, Paddock, and Harpier (traditionally depicted as a cat, a toad, and an owl). • The wizard Merlin of T.H. White’s The Once and Future King has an owl named Archimedes. • The wizards and witches in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series are permitted to bring an owl, a cat, a rat, or a toad with them to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. At the start of the series, Harry Potter has an owl named Hedwig, Hermione Granger has a cat named Crookshanks, and Ron Weasley has a rat named Scabbers. • In Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, which includes The Golden Compass, the human characters have companions called dæmons, animal manifestations of their souls. A dæmon can change form during their human’s childhood but “settles” on one shape when the human reaches puberty. Lyra Belacqua, the main character in His Dark Materials, has a dæmon named Pantalaimon. Though Pyewacket was not originally the name of a cat, it has been widely used as such. The film of Bell, Book & Candle is credited with inspiring many pet owners to name their cats after Gillian’s, and the film’s depiction of Pyewacket as a Siamese cat has made it a particularly popular name with owners of that breed. In Hartford Stage’s production of Bell, Book & Candle, Pyewacket is a black cat, a variety that has long been associated with witches and superstition. Cats’ nocturnal nature made them likely suspects for witches’ secretive, mysterious doings, and black cats, with their ability to hide

in the shadows and eyes that appeared to glow in the dark, made already superstitious people particularly uneasy. Some folktales told that black cats were really witches in disguise, while others stated that if a witch became human, such as by falling in love as Gillian does, her black cat would no longer reside in her house. Questions: • Matthew Hopkins believed the nonsensical nature of the familiars’ names provided by the woman in Manningtree supported his claim that they could only have been concocted by the devil. What do you think is the real reason why the woman supplied such unusual names? • What happens to Pyewacket at the end of Bell, Book & Candle? • Are you superstitious? Do you believe that it is bad luck if a black cat crosses your path?

Gillian (Kate MacCluggage) confers with her familiar, Pyewacket, in Hartford Stage’s production of Bell, Book & Candle. Photo by T. Charles Erickson.


The Inquisition The Inquisition was an effort to find and execute heretics in Europe, beginning around 1230 and lasting until 1860. It had four phases: the Medieval Inquisition, the Spanish Inquisition, the Portuguese Inquisition, and the Roman Inquisition, each of which was overseen by different inquisitors with varying motivations. However, the goals of each were the same: to rid Europe of members of Christian sects whose religious beliefs and practices were in opposition to those of the Catholic Church and its laws.

Medieval Inquisition—1230s onward

HERETIC: noun 1. a professed believer who maintains religious opinions contrary to those accepted by his or her church or rejects doctrines prescribed by that church. 2. anyone who does not conform to an established attitude, doctrine, or principle.

• Includes the Episcopal and Papal Inquisitions. Two groups that were major focuses of the Medieval (Random House Dictionary) Inquisition were the Cathars, a group in southern France whose faith included a belief that the Catholic Church was morally, spiritually, and politically corrupt, and the Waldensians in southern France and Northern Italy, who used their own interpretations of scriptures rather than the interpretations officially sanctioned by the Catholic Church.

Spanish Inquisition—1478-1834 • Operated under the royal jurisdiction of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, the Spanish Inquisition primarily targeted converts from other religions such as Judaism and Islam (who were suspected to have continued practicing their old religions), and later expanded to target Protestants.

Portuguese Inquisition—1536-1821 • Primarily targeted Sephardic Jews forced to convert to Catholicism.

Roman Inquisition—1542-1860 • Began when Pope Paul III established the Congregation of the Holy Office of the Inquisition to serve as a permanent council tasked with maintaining the faith and keeping down false doctrines. The Roman Inquisition includes the 1633 trial of Galileo Galilei, which was held in response to Galileo’s belief that Earth revolved around the sun, thus disputing the Church’s biblical understanding that Earth was the center of the universe, with heaven above and hell below. 18

GILLIAN: It’s people like her who make me wish we had THE INQUISITION back again. (Act III, Scene 1) What does this have to do with witches? Pope Alexander IV ruled in 1258 that inquisitors should restrict their investigations to cases in which there was “clear presumption of heretical belief (manifeste haeresim saparent),” but scholars see evidence “for supposing that heretical tendencies were very readily inferred from almost any sort of magical practices” (Thurston). Witches were believed to repudiate their Christian baptism, which, combined with misinterpretation of ethnic minorities’ unfamiliar rituals, sometimes made suspicion of witchcraft and suspicion of heresy interchangeable terms. Secular courts were also earnestly prosecuting witchcraft cases at this time, with burning at the stake being the most common sentence passed for convicted witches. During these trials, any social or religious nonconformity was grounds for suspicion. German Catholic Inquisitors Heirich Kramer and Jacob Sprenger added fuel to the witch-hunting fires when they published Malleus Maleficarum (The Hammer of Witches) in 1486, in which they asserted that it was the Church’s duty to hunt down and execute witches, and that witchcraft was a worse crime than heresy. Aided by the recent introduction of the printing press, the book was reprinted many times and became the primary handbook on witchcraft into the 18th century.

Questions: • The Inquisition was intended to root out those with beliefs considered heretical by the Catholic Church. What beliefs and practices does Mrs. de Pass engage in that Gillian finds heretical in the realm of witchcraft? • Is Sidney Redlitch a witch-hunter? What motivates him to find witches and publish information about their lives? • What other “witch hunts” have occurred throughout history? What groups of people have been targeted by others fixed on “outing” them to the world? Why is that which is different sometimes considered dangerous? What groups of people could the witches of Bell, Book & Candle represent?

Seal of the Tribunal of the Holy Office of the Spanish Inquisition.


The Significance of “Bell, Book & Candle”


In Act III, Scene 1 of John van Druten’s Bell, Book & Candle, author Sidney Redlitch begs witch Gillian Holroyd not to use her powers against him. Redlitch helped facilitate the end of Gillian’s relationship with handsome publisher Shep Henderson, and Redlitch fears what Gillian might do to seek revenge. Gillian, however, is more sarcastic than vindictive. “Why don’t you ask Mrs. de Pass to protect you, if you think so highly of her?” she asks. “I’m sure she wouldn’t consider a little thing like rendering me impotent beyond her powers. Or you might go to the local minister and get me exorcised— with Bell, Book and Candle.” A bell, a book, and a candle were props in ceremonies held to excommunicate those who had committed particularly grievous sins against the Catholic Church. An excommunication is a sentence handed down by the church that separated the sinner from the religious community by denying them participation in prayers, sacraments, and other liturgical activities. The ceremony, done in the hope that the person would repent and rejoin full communion with the Church, came to be known as simply “Bell, Book, and Candle.” • The bell represented the public character of the sinful act and was tolled as if for the dead, as the sinner is symbolically “dead” to the Church. • The Book of Gospels was closed in representation of the authority of the words spoken by the presiding bishop in the ceremony. • The candle, which was snuffed out, symbolized that the sinner was removed from the light and life of God. However, the candle’s ability to be relit represented the opportunity for the person to be absolved and return to God’s favor. When Christianity became the state religion of Rome in the 4th century, those who held dissenting views, such as those who held to worship of the old Roman gods and nature-based pagan religions, were

deemed heretics and excommunicated. In 906, Abbot Regino of Prum documented the early Catholic Church’s position on paganism and witchcraft in the Canon Episcopi. This document condemned belief in witchcraft as heretical and said that anyone who believed they possessed magical powers was allowing themselves to be deceived by Satan. As heresy was an excommunicable offense, witchcraft and belief in it became grounds for excommunication. But Gillian does not say “get me excommunicated.” She says “exorcised.” An exorcism is a religious ceremony intended to cast out demons or other spirits from a person they are believed to have possessed. Exorcisms are rarely performed today, as the symptoms and behaviors demonstrated by a person who would have previously been thought to be possessed can be scientifically attributed to treatable medical illness or psychosis. In film and television, however, exorcisms are sometimes portrayed as using bell, book, and candle as props. Given that exorcism ceremonies often include various combinations of prayers, symbols, and/or props such as amulets and icons, it is easy to see how the props of one ceremony have been attributed to another similarly named ceremony in popular culture.

Questions: • How is being in love similar to being possessed? How is Gillian’s loss of her powers like an exorcism? • How are the references to bell, book, and candle in the works by Marlowe, Shakespeare, and Eliot on the next page similar to and different from John van Druten’s use of the phrase in his play?

Other theatrical references to “bell, book, and candle” FAUSTUS: Come on, Mephistophilis, what shall we do?


Nay, I know not. We shall be cursed with bell book and candle.


How! bell, book, and candle,—candle, book, and bell, Forward and backward to curse Faustus to hell! Anon you shall hear a hog grunt, a calf bleat, an ass bray, Because it is Saint Peter’s holiday.

—Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe (Scene 7)

Kate MacCluggage as Gillian in Hartford Stage’s production of Bell, Book & Candle. Photo by T. Charles Erickson.

PHILIP THE BASTARD: Bell, book, and candle shall not drive me back, When gold and silver becks me to come on.

—King John by William Shakespeare (Act III, Scene 3) JELLICLE CATS: Can you ride on a broomstick to places far distant Familiar with candle, with book, and with bell? Were you Whittington’s friend? The Pied Piper’s assistant? Have you been an alumnus of Heaven and Hell?

—“Prologue: Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats,” from the musical Cats by Trevor Nunn, Richard Stilgoe, and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Based on Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot. 21

Suggested Activities Acting—Playing Realism


Realism is a form of drama that depicts slices of life. Rather than focusing on the conflicts of royalty, military heroes, or an aristocratic ruling class, Realism depicts average people living in normal places. Realistic plays often take place in a character’s home, where the fourth wall has been removed, allowing the audience to take a peek at the events inside. Characters are shown living contemporary lifestyles and are unique individuals with problems to which the audience can relate. While Bell, Book & Candle contains elements of fantasy in its plot, the play is still considered realistic in style. The setting is Gillian’s apartment and the characters’ personal relationships were easily recognizable to audiences in 1950. In order to perform the play’s Realism, actors are tasked with treating the magical elements as perfectly natural, expressive parts of their world. For example, Gillian chooses to use magic to win Shep’s affection because she does not have enough time to seduce him without Pyewacket’s magical help. To Gillian, magic is a logical means of getting what she wants and it fits naturally into her world. Use improvisation to explore the challenge of maintaining realistic expression with nonrealistic props. Create a small realistic set, such as a table and chairs, and give two volunteer actors a basic set of characters and scenario to improvise in which the characters are unable to use words to express their true feelings (For example: a couple on a first date at a coffee shop. One or both characters may be really enjoying the date and wanting to kiss the other person, but cannot because they are afraid of rejection. Or maybe one of the characters is not enjoying the date but does not want to be rude or hurt the other person’s feelings). Nearby, place several props that have absolutely no relationship to the scene (jump rope, baseball bat, feather duster, boomerang, a stuffed animal, etc.). The actors should improvise a realistic conversation while expressing the characters’ emotions and intentions by using of the nonrealistic props (For example, if one character wants to kiss the other, they may cuddle the stuffed animal, or if one character is not enjoying the date and wants to leave, they may slap the baseball bat in their hand).

Creative Writing—Persuasive Letter

When Gillian successfully uses a spell to make Shep fall in love with her, he calls his fiancée, Merle, and breaks up with her on the phone. Imagine that you are Shep after you have had Gillian’s love spell removed. Write a persuasive letter in which you try to apologize to Merle and win her back. • How do you explain your actions to Merle and convince her to reconcile? • What do you expect her reaction will be when she hears your explanation? Try to anticipate her arguments and defend yourself against them. • How do you see your future together? What can she expect if she takes you back? • Be as specific as possible.

Creative Writing—Journal Entry

After Mrs. de Pass removes Gillian’s love spell and Shep leaves, Gillian is heartbroken. Upon feeling human emotions for the first time, she is horrified by how awful the pain of lost love is. But over the next two months, Gillian finds ways of distracting herself from thinking about Shep. According to Aunt Queenie, Gillian started going to the movies “because they were a good place to cry in. And she said too, that if she was going to start having human emotions, she’d better learn something about them . . . and then one day she met a lady there whose job was seeing movies, and she asked Gillian if she’d like to do it, too. Gill sees two double features a day, and then reports on them. Writes them up in the evening” (III, 2). Imagine you are Gillian and you have recently started your job reviewing movies. Write a journal entry in which you explore the following: • How have you been feeling since Shep left? • What have you learned about human emotions from watching movies? • Why did you decide that reviewing movies would be a good thing for you to do? • In addition to seeing movies, how else have you been filling your time? • Have movies been the distraction you hoped they would be? How often do you think of

• • • •

Shep? Did anything in the movies you have seen recently remind you of Shep or of your time together? How do you feel about losing your powers? Do you regret any of your choices or actions? Given that you have lost both your powers AND Shep, was it all worth it? If you could speak to Shep again, what would you say to him? What are your hopes for the future? What plans do you have for what you will do next?

Visual Art—Costume Design

The clothing we wear is both practical necessity and expressive art form. We wear certain clothes for their utilitarian uses and others because we simply like the way we look in them. Either way, the fashion people wear is closely linked to the values and lifestyles of their time. In Bell, Book & Candle, the clothes Gillian wears clearly communicate her state of mind. Research the image of Rosie the Riveter and the fashion worn by women during World War II. • What styles were popular at this time? Describe the silhouettes and fabrics. • What aspects of these styles were practical for women’s lives in the early to mid-1940s? What pieces comprised a typical outfit? What did these clothes express about women’s identities? • How do these styles influence the shirt, pants, and shoes Gillian wears at the beginning of the play? Also research French fashion designer Christian Dior and his New Look collection, which debuted in 1947. • How were the silhouettes in the New Look different from the fashion of a few years earlier? • How did women’s lifestyles change when the war ended? How did the New Look reflect women’s changing role in society? • The New Look was a significant inspiration for women’s fashion throughout the 1950s and even into the early 1960s. What does Gillian’s clothing at the end of the play owe to the New Look? What does this costume suggest about Gillian and her life? Is there anything in today’s fashion that is inspired by Rosie the Riveter or the New Look? If Bell, Book & Candle were to be set in 2012, what clothing from the last 10 years would Gillian wear? Create your own original costume designs for a modern Gillian by using research images from the 1940s, 1950s, and 20022012.

Act I costume design for Gillian by Fabio Toblini. 23

REFERENCES “American Women in World War II.” A&E Television Networks. Web. 15 Mar. 2012. <http://www.history. com/topics/american-women-in-world-war-ii>. Boudinhon, Auguste. “Excommunication.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 5. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909. 16 Mar. 2012 < htm> “History of Witchcraft.” Witchcraft - A Guide to the Misunderstood and the Maligned. Web. 08 Mar. 2012. <http://>. Hopkins, Matthew. The Discovery of Witches. 1647. Project Gutenburg Online Reader. Project Gutenburg Literary Archive Foundation, 10 Nov. 2004. Web. 13 Mar. 2012. < files=1493964&pageno=1>. “Inquisition.” Encyclopedia of the Unusual and Unexplained. Advameg, Inc. Web. 14 Mar. 2012. <http://www. html>.

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James I. Daemonologie. Edinburgh, 1597. King James’ Daemonologie. Web. 22 Mar. 2012. < teaching/eng338/daemonologie.html>. “John William Van Druten.” World News. Web. 14 Mar. 2012. <>. Midelfort, H. C. Erik. “Witchcraft.” Europe, 1450-1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World. 2004. Encyclopedia. com. 9 Mar. 2012 <>. Spigel, Lynn. “Family on Television.” The Museum of Broadcast Communications. The Museum of Broadcast Communications. Web. 21 Mar. 2012. < php?entrycode=familyontel>. Thurston, Herbert. “Witchcraft.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 15. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 20 Mar. 2012 <>. “Timeline of Neopaganism, Wicca and Witchcraft.” ReligionFacts. 16 Apr. 2005. Web. 07 Mar. 2012. <http://www.>. Van Druten, John. “How A Play Is Born.” The New York Times 30 Nov. 1952. The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Web. 9 Mar. 2012. <http://www.newyorktimes. com>. Wikipedia contributors. “John Van Druten.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 3 Mar. 2012. Web. 15 Mar. 2012.


Contributing Editor Alexandra Truppi Education Programs Associate With Contributions by Chris Baker Senior Dramaturg Jennifer Roberts Director of Education

Study Guide: Bell, Book & Candle  

Student study guide for Bell, Book and Candle

Study Guide: Bell, Book & Candle  

Student study guide for Bell, Book and Candle