High-tech production

Play based on familiar story of Lizzie Borden murders.

It has been a question on the minds of some Americans for nearly a century - whether or not Lizzie Borden murdered her father and stepmother in 1892.

Now an event woven into American folklore, the story of Borden - a young New York socialite who was thought to have murdered her wealthy father and his second wife over family finances and a dislike of her stepmother - has since been adapted to a children's rhyme.

"Lizzie Borden took an ax and gave her mother 40 whacks," the rhyme says. "And when the job was nicely done, she gave her father 41."

Although the words may vary through the course of history, the concept is the same. Borden was found guilty by society despite being acquitted at her trial.

Now, 110 years later, her story has been brought to Strother Theater in "Blood Relations" by Sharon Pollock.

In a unique twist, Pollock's play does not answer the question of whether or not Borden killed her father and stepmother, but instead lets the audience decide for itself through the use of technology.

Set in the Borden home of Fall River, Mass., 10 years after the murders, "Blood Relations" is told from the perspective of Borden's friend, an actress who is in Fall River for a visit.

Upon asking Borden if she committed the murders, Borden encourages her friend to solve the mystery herself.

As the game begins, Borden takes the role of Bridget, a maid in the house at the time of the murders. Her friend then takes on the role of Borden, acting as Lizzie would as she explores life in the family's household, relationships between family members and the events leading to the day when Mr. and Mrs. Borden were slain.

In Ball State's rendition of the live play, actors are real, but the method is distinctively different.

The production, a collaboration of Ball State's $20 million iCommunications project, Department of Theater and Dance, College of Information and Computer Sciences and the Teleplex, incorporates streamed video feed and an interactive hand-held eBook into the show.


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