By Josephine Hinderman
Theatre is nearly a universal language, and it has now come to connect people in Green Bay to folks in the United Kingdom.
Such can be seen through the story of Meggie Greivell, a 2007 graduate of Green Bay West High school studying to get her Masters of Fine Arts in Directing from Napier University in Edinburg.
“I wanted to get my Masters in directing for a while… I was working in Minnesota in theatre production for 10 years, and I’d previously studied abroad in London… I knew I wanted to study [in Scotland.]” said Greivell.
Greivell has also found her niche in Scotland’s theatre scene, and when asked about the differences between theatre in Wisconsin and the U.K., she says, “I think the basics [of theatre] are the same, but I’d say that theatre is more thriving here, t’s more integrated into peoples’ lives and culture. In the US, especially in the Midwest, you gotta go to the big city for the theatre opportunities. It’s just so culturally rich here.”
For her thesis, Greivell was tasked with researching, directing, and producing a new work at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, one of the world’s largest performance arts festivals that can feature tens of thousands of performances and shows; this year’s festival ran from 4 Aug.-28 Aug.
The play Greivell worked with is called “Prick,” a play following women that fell victim to the Scottish witch trials, which spanned from around the early 16th century to the mid-18th century in Europe.
“I directed a play called ‘Prick’ about the Scottish witch trials, and it was successful,” Greivell said. “It started when I needed to direct a new work for my thesis… It got a lot of attention, there were many sales, it was successful! Especially historians loved it. They came to see it and loved it and encouraged its production – and I’m proud! They’re currently trying to get it performed elsewhere… Right now in Scotland there is also a movement happening to have a memorial and museum dedicated to these women.”
Greivell goes on to descrube how most of the characters featured in Prick are inspired by actual victims of the trials, and how the aforementioned movement is being led by a group known as the Witches of Scotland.
For more information about the Witches of Scotland and their cause, check out www.witchesofscotland.com/.
Says Greivell, “I do theatre to educate and give justice to people who’s stories have been forgotten… directing [at the Fringe festival] has been amazing. ‘Prick’ was written by Laurie Flanigan-Hegge, and our puppet artist Madeline Helling, are from Minneanapolis, so [the play] has more Midwest connections. A really cool experience – a cool international experience. We were nervous because we were Americans telling this kind of story, but the Scottish and locals and historians were encouraging… I always found theatre to be global, you can tell these stories and find connections all over!”
Greivell expresses excitement about the future of “Prick,” saying, “We got picked up by a theatre in London for a week-long run at The Drayton Arms from January 16-20… We’re excited but definitely nervous because of the different culture and audience but the Fringe festival prepared us for a competitive market… London is the greatest city in the world for the theatre! I graduate with my Masters at the end of October. I hope to find other directing work, I will be preparing ‘Prick’ for London, and I want to stay in the U.K.[…] My theatre roots go back to Green Bay. I started as an actor, and I was dead set on it… I got my BA in Theatre Arts at [The University of Wisconsin-Parkside], and I was told by a professor to consider directing[…] I was working at a women’s center on campus at the time and I jumped at the chance to direct our version of ‘The Vagina Monologues’ and from there I knew I wanted to direct. When I graduated I wanted to do both acting and directing[…] I went to Minneanapolis on an internship[…] I tried to audition but kept thinking ‘why I am doing this? I wanna direct!’ A lot of young people start as actors, but that’s okay because you work a lot with actors as a director, and having that acting background helped me understand working with them…
Concludes Greivell, “Wisconsin really has a great theatre scene, and I wouldn’t be where I am without it. There’s a lot of good work there!”
For more information about Greivall’s work and upcoming projects, visit https://www.meggiegreivell.com/.