Serial-killing prostitutes have feelings too and tonight, Rude Mechanicals will perform “SELF DEFENSE, or death of some salesmen,” which will force its audiences to question a woman’s true motives in a serial killing case.

“SELF DEFENSE, or death of some salesmen”

Tonight and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Mendelssohn Theatre
Tickets from $3

“SELF DEFENSE” was inspired by the true story of Aileen Wuornos, whom some might call the first female serial killer. Roughly 20 years ago, Wuronos, a prostitute working to support herself and her girlfriend, was convicted of murdering seven male motorists in Florida.

Wuornos inspired the creation of many other artistic pieces, like the 2003 movie “Monster,” for which Charlize Theron won an Academy Award. The movie highlights the uglier perspective of Wuornos’s life (including Theron’s infamous scene cleaning herself in a public bathroom). “SELF DEFENSE” looks at that human within “the monster.”

Though Wuornos confessed to her killings and was given six death sentences that withstood repeated appeals, she contested that the men had tried to murder her first. Therefore, she claims, each act was self defense.

The play re-imagines Wuornos’s life, allowing for a more sympathetic portrayal of her story. Jolene Palmer, the character based on Wuornos, is played by LSA senior Amanda Jungquist. In preparation for the role, Jungquist did immense research to try and understand the human side to Wuornos that didn’t come through in the media.

“(The play) presents her as a human being — as someone who is not a monster. It shows all the complicated layers of a person, personality, their life and circumstances,” Jungquist said. “She’s angry, she’s full of love, she’s full of fear, full of hate, she’s funny, sarcastic and crazy.”

Director Emilie Samuelsen said the plays forces audiences to “stop and reconsider the rules that you think exist, but really don’t. (It) makes you think differently about the legal system, social hierarchy that we set up in our own world and how the media effects all of that.”

The play’s realities were brought to life for the cast as they took advantage of the various resources provided on campus. One of their main events was a workshop with the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center. The discussion was focused on self-defense and incarcerated women, two important components of the production.

According to Samuelsen, the workshop opened up a lot of questions and made the material in the play feel real for the cast.

“We are art reflecting life. Real life,” she said. “This is what really goes on.”

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