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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Playing with friends

Remember when you were a kid and you used to pretend?  Cowboys and Indians (Native Americans)? Selling things from your “store”?  Or serving dinner with plastic veggies?

Well sixty years later I am still doing this.  Starting tonight, my Kings Town Players friends and I are dressing up and playing with each other and putting on a show for you.   I am having great fun playing the role of Charlie Aiken. Over the past few weeks,  I have gradually transfoimagermed myself into the dope-smoking, beer-swigging upholsterer from the southern U. S. A. who is caught up in one of the most dysfunctional families you can imagine.

August: Osage County is an award winning play that was made into a popular movie starring Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts last year.  I loved the movie but I think that the play has an intensity that can only be felt with live theatre.  We all can identify with the Weston family to some degree.  Are any of our families totally “normal”?  Or is this kind of dynamic more what “normal” is on some level?

Mattie Fay and Charlie Aiken in Kings Town Players production of August: Osage County

Mattie Fay and Charlie Aiken in Kings Town Players production of August: Osage County

There is a lot of very dark humour.  When we were rehearsing, I was almost embarrassed to laugh at some of the horrid things characters say to each other. The “ladies” are particularly foul-mouthed…and loving every moment of it.  We hope our audiences will relax and let go. You have permission to laugh out loud…in fact we are looking forward to hearing your guffaws.  Get ready for lots of startling moments as well.

The three-act play is also three hours long so come prepared to get your money’s worth.  You will feel like a voyeur, peeping through the windows of a family struggling with many demons.  Great live theatre.

We have worked hard to get this production ready. All we need now is an audience. Please join us for a dinner from hell.

August: Osage County runs Wednesday to Saturday from September 17 to 27 at the Rotunda Theatre, Theolological Hall, Queen’s University campus.  8 pm.  Tickets are $20 and available here ( http://www.kingstonboxoffice.com)or at the door.