Stories from the Witch Hunt

Handmaids. Witches. Comedians and musicians. These were not your standard #MeToo stories. This was The Witch Hunt, a variety show inspired by the #MeToo movement.

The performers who took to the stage at the El Capitan Theater in Los Angeles shared tales that amounted to a different kind of modern horror story—and gave performers and the audience gathered alongside them an outlet to process and heal from trauma. Amrita Dhaliwal, the Intrepid Dance Project and Christopher Ashman were among those who used musical and comedic performances to explore scary tales of sexism. Celia Daniels spoke up about a difficult conversation with her daughter about her gender identity. Jennifer Jonassen told the audience a story that her abuser, who was also her high school teacher, left out of their memoir—and the factors that still keep her from sharing her story.

Lila Dupree, co-creator of the Witch Hunt and one of the performers, remarked to Ms. that comedy can be a good way to deal with difficult topics like abuse, and that the show, directed by Gloria Iseli, was built to give survivors a different kind of platform for their #MeToo moments.

When Giovannie Espiritu was in high school, her stepfather suggested that they could “do things’” she was learning about in sex ed, or that she could learn from him by watching him masturbate. Her response was curt: “No, thank you.” She went upstairs to her room and blocked the door with a chair.

When Espiritu’s mom learned about the incident, she defended her stepfather. When she opened up about the abuse to an acting teacher, she was worried that she would get in trouble. When Child Protective Services arrived at her door, her mother issued a cold directive: “You are an actress now. So act.”

Years later, Espiritu’s role in a different kind of performance created space to finally tell the truth.


Kohinur Khyum Tithila is a journalist based in Bangladesh. She is a Fulbright scholar and received her second master’s degree in Magazine, Newspaper, & Online Journalism from Syracuse University, first master’s degree in criminology and criminal justice from Dhaka University, and bachelor’s degree in English from East West University. Kohinur writes about LGBTQ and women’s issues, feminism, crime, secularism, social justice and human rights. She is also addicted to anything caffeinated.