Ted Bundy Serial Murders Inspires Dance Drama
SEATTLE (AP) _ Lisa Hoffman never says a word. Neither does her ″killer″ and one-time lover, James Parker Caine.
Instead, their pas de deux, solo movements and the words of reporters, relatives, television writers and lawyers tell the story in ″Killers, What a Murder Leaves Behind,″ a dance drama inspired by the Ted Bundy serial slayings.
″The victim can’t speak for herself because she is dead,″ said author Susy Schneider, an actress, comedian and former ″Saturday Night Live″ writer. ″The killer is really defined by all these other people.″
Rather than an account of the infamous Bundy, the action revolves around a fictitious rape-murder in a quiet Tacoma suburb.
The subject of the production is less the perpetrator, victim, or the crime than the crime’s impact on others. For instance, Michelle Hoffman, the dead woman’s older sister, says she feels ″like Humpty Dumpty, waiting for that push.″
″I wanted to look at revenge, what it is and what kind of emotion it is,″ Schneider said.
It turns out that Caine, badly abused as a child, was convicted of attempted rape and served a prison term after Hoffman falsely testified that she had never had sex with him.
The truth is found in the dead woman’s diary, introduced in Caine’s murder trial in an unsuccessful bid to avoid a death sentence.
The Hoffman family is shattered. The mother dies six months after the murder. The father obsessively keeps scrapbooks of newspaper clippings in anticipation of an execution that never comes as appeal follows appeal. The sister quits her job as a Tacoma-area schoolteacher, then flees to another teaching job in Montana.
Schneider, 42, said Bundy’s execution spurred her to explore sex killings and ″our convoluted ways of looking for love.″
″This is a real departure for me. I’ve never done anything so serious or with so many people,″ said Schneider.
After 11 years of legal maneuvering, Bundy’s time ran out on Jan. 24, 1989. Suspected in as many as 36 grisly killings and disappearances, he confessed in his final days to killing 23 women in four western states. He was convicted of killing three in Florida.
As he was executed at the Florida State Prison, more than 100 people outside lighted sparklers, detonated firecrackers and shouted ″Burn, Bundy, burn 3/8″
″I was just totally outraged,″ Schneider said.
″Somehow it made me feel safe that Ted Bundy was dead,″ she said, ″and I realized that that was not really furthering anything, was not really right.″ She went to Performance Support Services and won approval for a project that is more theater than dance although it is part of the Allegro 3/8 Dance Festival.
The result, which opened Wednesday and closes March 17 at the Broadway Performance Hall, has drawn sparse audiences and mixed reviews.
Dance lovers have not come because movement is sacrificed to dialogue, and theater lovers are largely unfamiliar with the series and performance site, said Alan Pietsch, who danced Caine.
″The only way this character is portrayed is through the movement and through the words of the other characters,″ Pietsch said. ″It’s very hard, as an audience member, to focus on those two things at once.″