Virtual Theatre Performance from The Belles of Whitechapel ~ The Victims of Jack the Ripper Speak, written by Wayne Miller / Directed by Nina Soden
Actress/Director Nina Soden
I am excited to be bringing Mary Jane Kelly back to life, even if just for a few minutes, to tell her story. I am truly thankful to Wayne Miller, playwriter and co-owner of Evil Cheez Productions, for the beautiful words and the gracious permission to produce and direct this wonderful show. I am proud to have been able to work with such a wonderful cast and excited to be able to still bring theatre to an audience, even when so many theatres across the globe are still shut down due to COVID-19. Art is essential and will find ways, such as virtual theatre, to survive. Thank you, to all of you, for taking the time to watch this show.
When asked her thoughts on Mary Jane Kelly’s monologue, Nina had this to say: Her words, the way Wayne wrote her, is devastating. She had such hope in life. She had love, loss, joy, pain, determination, and below it all a deep sadness. I had the honor of playing her during the premier performance of The Belles of Whitechapel at The Lowery House many years ago when Wayne Miller directed it. Reconnecting with her has been like putting on a warm coat or slipping into my favorite pajamas; it is easy to slip into her skin and feel all of her emotions. Maybe its because of how well she is written, or maybe it is because on some level I think every woman can relate to her.
When asked about the process of performing virtual theatre, she said: Of course live theatre is always best with an audience. However, in this crazy pandemic life we are living in right now, I believe it is still important to be creating art in any way we can. Besides, as an actress, film has always been my passion, so being in front of a camera is completely natural for me. I love it! Being able to share Mary Jane Kelly with a broader audience is the icing on the cake. When it comes to stage vs. camera, I prepare for a role the same way. Memorization is memorization, and the lines come easy to me – they always have. I enjoy the character development process, I think that is why it is so easy to slip into a role and learn the lines. As a director, this process was a little harder. We conducted ZOOM rehearsals to ensure proper social distancing and did all of our communicating through Facebook. It wasn’t as easy as meeting face to face, but it worked. With just 2 short weeks to complete the project, I think everyone did a wonderful job.
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