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AT: My Name Is Lisbeth A: Sharon Pollock Pf: 1976, New Westminster, British Columbia Pb: 1981 G: Hist. drama in 2 acts S: Fall River, Massachusetts, 1902 and 1892 C: 3m, 4fIn 1892, 32-year-old Lizzie Borden was acquitted of murdering her father and stepmother with an axe. Ten years later, she is playing host to the Actress, who demands to know the truth about the murder. Lizzie responds by challenging the Actress to act her part in the events leading up to the death of her parents. Lizzie herself takes on the role of the Bordens' maid Bridget. The Actress experiences for herself what life as Lizzie was like under the tyrannical rule of her loveless father, stepmother, and the latter's evil brother. Prompted by ‘Bridget’, she considers the options of suicide or murder to escape from her living hell. As the Actress becomes more and more identified with her role, Lizzie/Bridget begins to understand that much of her own behaviour was prompted by her older sister Emma, who was also seeking release from her parents. At the end it is not clear whether Lizzie actually committed the murders. What is obvious is that she was capable of doing so and that she was subject to almost intolerable pressures.

AT: My Name Is Lisbeth A: Sharon Pollock Pf: 1976, New Westminster, British Columbia Pb: 1981 G: Hist. drama in 2 acts S: Fall River, Massachusetts, 1902 and 1892 C: 3m, 4f

Pollock, one of Canada's leading contemporary playwrights, bravely took on several controversial subjects (she also wrote a play about Jack the Ripper: Saucy Jack in 1993). Here she offers a feminist reading of the Lizzie Borden murders, immortalized in a nursery rhyme. Not only are the 19th-century social conditions which dictated the powerlessness of unmarried women seen as the source of Lizzie's violence; the contemporary audience are also implicated as they observe her role being created by the unnamed Actress, thus making Lizzie a figure shaped by the fantasy of the onlookers.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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Sharon Pollock (b. 1936)


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