Book of Spells (2009)

Canadian storytellers Jan Andrews and Jennifer Cayley up a tree

Have you ever wondered what happened to the old witch in the woods after Hansel and Gretel escaped uneaten? Care to find out? Canadian storytellers, Jan Andrews and Jennifer Cayley, take you back to the gingerbread house in the forest in their show, ‘A Book of Spells’.

It’s a journey to magical places where even the Brothers Grimm didn’t dare venture, and they’d like to welcome you into their real-life relationship – the union of two self-described “little old ladies” who have chosen to spend their lives together. Early in the show, Jan Andrews and Jennifer Cayley recall their astonishment, in the early days, to think they might be lesbians. Both were married, one unhappily, one in a perfect marriage… and that is the beginning of their story.

This is not storytime for kids, but rather an imaginative journey for open-minded grown-ups.

The re-imagined tale of the witch in the gingerbread house is borrowed from a book by Sara Maitland. Other stories are inspired by the real lives of Jan and Jennifer, who often think of themselves as a pair of witches living in the woods (their house is beside a river, about an hour’s drive from Ottawa).

Jan says “We think we each have a broomstick somewhere but can’t actually find it… we weave these stories together with things that relate to our own lives. The show is a vivid demonstration of what literature is for… to show us to ourselves.”