Virtual Theatre Performance from The Belles of Whitechapel ~ The Victims of Jack the Ripper Speak, written by Wayne Miller / Directed by Nina Soden
Actress Leslie Gates
LESLIE GATES is very excited to be part of this project. She has been seen on stage in Huntsville in The Importance of Being Earnest, The Diviners, Blithe Spirit, and Nunsense. Leslie is also the Executive Director of Theatre Huntsville. Thank you to Nina for such a fun opportunity and to Wayne for a great script.
When asked her thoughts on Elizabeth “Long Liz” Stride’s role, Leslie had this to say: Liz was a very interesting person. She was born in Sweden, and came to London for a better life. That didn’t seem to work out for her as she ended up on the streets, depending on charity and selling her wares to make ends meet. However, she did seem to have somewhat of an optimistic outlook. Liz seemed like she never gave up and never lost her sense of humor.
When asked about the process of performing virtual theatre, she said: Film is so different from the stage. It was a little intimidating to have the camera there – I really wasn’t used to that. And having the shorter time period was really different – especially the older I get. I tend to attach words to movement, so that was different as well. And I must admit I did miss the audience. But Nina was so supportive and patient that it was not as scary as I thought it would be.
Actress Gena Rawdon
Gena has been active in community theatre for 20+ years and is honored to be appearing in The Belles of Whitechapel for a third time. She would love to tell every belle’s story if she has the chance!
After working in the Shoals theater scene for seven years, her first show in Huntsville was Theatre Huntsville’s Sabrina Fair in 2000. She has consistently worked with community theatre companies in Huntsville, Florence and Guntersville throughout her career.
Her first opportunity for a movie role came in 2018, when she played “Maw” in “The Quiet”, a movie filmed in the Shoals.
Gena wants to thank Nina Soden and all the Belles for bringing these beautiful women and their haunting stories to light.
When asked her thoughts on Kate Eddowes’s role, Gena had this to say: Oh, Kate. I loved Kate for her brutal honesty and her vulnerability. To think about a woman who was brutally murdered telling people about how she ended up dying at the hands of a serial killer…..it’s so powerful. To portray a woman who struggled with poverty, classism and addiction during a time when women had no viable options is a humbling experience. Kate had a man she loved and I get the feeling they felt it was them against the world. She made some poor choices, sure. I have too, we all have. They didn’t cost me my life, though. Kate was a survivor. She had love in her life. She deserved a fighting chance, but Jack the Ripper’s success as a serial killer depended upon a society who didn’t give women and poor people a fighting chance. The deck was stacked against Kate, but she never gave up. I love her for that.
When asked about the process of performing virtual theatre, she said: I haven’t done much screen work, but I love the option of being able to do a retake if I flub a scene or want to record a better version. The quick turnaround was a little nerve-wracking, but I would do it again in a heartbeat to be able to tell this story!
I really miss not being able to collaborate with my fellow artists. I’m glad Leslie and I had a chance to play off each other. I look forward to the day that we can all be collaborating in person again!
A Note from the Director
As a writer, I can appreciate every word Wayne put into this script. His research and dedication to his writing did these women proud. As an actress, I hope to one day play all the roles so I can truly connect with each of them on an emotional level. As a director, I am both honored and humbled that Wayne would trust me with this production. I have loved working with each of these actresses and believe that in the short time we had together (2 weeks start to finish) each and every one of them have given a beautiful performance. ~ Nina Soden
WAYNE MILLER is the owner and creative director of EVIL CHEEZ PRODUCTIONS and is the Grand High Poobah of CHEEZISM, the movement he founded (it isn’t organized enough to be called a religion, besides which it isn’t religious) dedicated to providing audiences with the finest in entertainment options on the page and for the stage. (On the big screen, too, if Spielberg ever returns any of his phone calls.) Wayne has been writing stories literally since before he learned his alphabet—he drew pictures. After languishing in the nether-regions of the publishing industry for years, working as an acquisitions editor for a literary agency, he chose, as an experiment, to combine his passion for writing with his hobby of Theatre, and in the process, by accident and Providence, discovered his life’s purpose: to be a showman.
Describing himself as a cross between Edgar Allan Poe and P.T. Barnum, Miller is a devotee of Ed Wood, the “worst director of all time!” who inspires Wayne due to his unflappable dedication to his muse and unrestrainable creative drive.
When not involved in Cheez business, Wayne Miller is a reporter for the websites werewolves.com, vampires.com, and darkness.com. He has previously written content for zombies.org, topcomics.com, thenerdrecites.com, and Legless Corpse Films.
Wayne Miller and Tanya Miller of Evil Cheez Productions for allowing me the honor of producing and directing this amazing play. Through his script, Wayne has done a wonderful job of bringing these women back to life, even if just for a few minutes, to tell their story. Make sure you check out Evil Cheez online and learn about their upcoming productions.
Theatre Huntsville for letting us use The Studio Theatre space at Lowe Mill and for providing the professional lighting design. You can find them, and their upcoming productions, online by clicking HERE or on Facebook.
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To read the actresses comments about their characters, click on the links below and you’ll be taken to the individual posts!
Annie Millwood Martha Tabram Polly Nichols “Dark Annie” Chapman Elizabeth “Long Liz” Stride and Kate Eddowes Sarah Lewis Mary Jane Kelly