Chop Chop

It’s true.

One of my blood relations, my seventh great grandfather, Dominicus Jordan, was slaughtered in 1703 by blows to the head with a hatchet.

This month, in the King’s Town Players production of Blood Relations, I am playing the role of Andrew Borden who, in real life, suffered the same fate.

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Andrew Jackson Borden,  Lizzie’s father.

Andrew is the more famous of the two, having been found dead, along with his wife Abby, in their Fall River, Massachusetts home on the morning of August 4, 1892. The only people who had been in the house that morning were the maid who was out washing windows and the Borden’s daughter Lizzie. Lizzie’s was charged with the murder and her trial drew the same kind of widespread attention that O.J. Simpson got in 1995 and the out come of “Not Guilty” was received with the same skepticism. Lizzie Borden has become a bit of a legend since that time with the assumption being that she was the one who viciously murdered her parents despite the fact that there was and is no concrete evidence to prove her guilt. borden_4She got off on the “reasonable doubt” claim and to this day that verdict would have to hold. As a gruesome piece of evidence, the coroner had decapitated both Abby and Andrew and their skulls were submitted as evidence at the trial.

I remember skipping to the rhyme “Lizzie Borden took an axe. Gave her mother 40 whacks. When she saw what she had done, she gave her father 41” when I was a youngster. Her notoriety is of epic proportion.

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Photos of Dominicus Jordan’s musket – Maine Historical Society

My seventh great grandfather’s death is well documented too.  Dominicus Jordan was born in Spurwink, Cape Elizabeth, Maine in about 1655.  In 1675 his family had to leave the district because at the beginning of “King Phillip’s War” their family home was destroyed by the Indians. Dominicus became known during that time as the “Indian-killer” and he fiercely defended his family and property. He was known for carrying a six-foot long rifle slung over his back wherever he went.
That rifle, with some of the barrel later sawn off, is now in the Maine Historical Society Museum in Portland. Gradually peace returned and Dominicus and his wife, Hanna Tristram, returned to Spurwink. Dominicus’ reputation with his native adversaries, however, remained with him. On August 10, 1703, under the guise of wanting to buy some goods, a small band of Indians fell on Dominicus, one of them striking his head with a hatchet and killing him. With Domincus murdered, his wife and six children were all “led through the wilderness to Canada” and kept as prisoners in what is now Quebec. After several years all but one made their way back to Maine.

There are no skipping rhymes about Dominicus but lots of legend.  And I do actually carry some of his DNA. I know from DNA testing on Ancestry that my brother, my kids and I all share some segments of DNA with other Dominicus Jordan progeny.  I am wondering if my DNA will help me to live the role of the unfortunate Andrew Borden.

So…did Lizzie do it? Come out to Blood Relations to see what. you think. The show will be at the Domino Theatre and runs Wednesday to Saturday for two weeks – March 21-24 and 28-31. Tickets will be available online and at the door. I hope my friends will be supportive of this production. And my enemies?  Well they might be excited to see me get hacked.

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Gosia Rutkowska and Anne Marie Bergman rehearse for Blood Relations.

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Movie magic – behind the scenes

Anyone who has worked with Domino Theatre in Kingston, Ontario is familiar with the practical but rather stark actors’ dressing room.  White plaster walls, big mirrors, lights and a floating rack of costumes for whatever production is in the works.

DR1Last weekend the crew of Fault were challenged with turning that little room into a location for their movie, presumably a dressing room in the rural “Barn Theatre” where some of the movie action occurs.  Last year, scenes on the stage of the “Barn” theatre, in the lobby and lounge and outside the theatre were filmed. An additional pick up scene was required to finish the film and the original location was not available.  Fault‘s producer, Barbara Bell, coaxed her Kingston theatre friends to let Fault use the Domino dressing room for this scene.

The crew arrived at Domino around 6 pm after a day shooting outdoors and started to scrounge for set pieces to give the place more character.

Director Leigh Ann Bellamy contemplating how to dress this set.

Director Leigh Ann Bellamy contemplating how to dress this set.

Now, if you are going to look to dress a set, the best place to be is in a theatre.  Soon the small crew came up with pieces of wall and drapes and lights and set pieces that turned one corner of the DominoTheatre dressing room into a wonderfully warm set, rich with great character.

The scene, with Jennifer Verardi and Amelia MacKenzie-Gray-Hyre and directed by Leigh Ann Bellamy was shot from several angles, including one from between the costumes on the rack.

By 11 pm it was a wrap, the props and set dressing all returned to various cubby holes in the Domino Theatre and the crew on thier way home, anticipating one more day if shooting before the movie was in the can and ready for all the work of post production.

In the past year or two I have had the pleasure of working, in varying capacities, with friends who were shooting movies in Kingston and in Kenya. I worked with “director greats” McGuire, Hincer, Nielson and Bellamy and was even a background performer (along with 200 other Kingstonians) in the major studio Guillermo del Toro film, Crimson Peak, shot in Kingston market square in April.  It has been fascinating to participate in this process and given me great appreciation for all the work and planning that goes into even few seconds of motion picture.

Here are some glimpses of what you might eventually see and what it took to make that magic happen in Fault. Watch for it.

Leigh Ann Bellamy and Director of Photography, Christian Paulo Malo, contemplate a camera angle.

Leigh Ann Bellamy and Director of Photography, Christian Paulo Malo, contemplate a camera angle.

Daniel Karan is boom operator. Sound is captured with lavaliere microphones hidden in the actor's costume and an overhead boom.

Daniel Karan is boom operator. Sound is captured with lavaliere microphones hidden in the actor’s costume and an overhead boom. Jennifer’s microphone was in a box of Kleenex on the counter.

Here is what you will see in the movie , or close to it. A far cry from the bare Domino dressing room.

Here is what you will see in the movie , or close to it. A far cry from the bare Domino dressing room.

Jennifer Verardi and Amelia MacKenzie-Gray-Hyre in a scene from Fault.

Jennifer Verardi and Amelia MacKenzie-Gray-Hyre in a scene from Fault. When you see two characters quietly talking in a movie scene there is a whole crew only inches away making that happen.