Millie Rose, playwright
The spark of this project was an article I read which begged the question: what if Elizabeth Bathory did not commit the crimes she's been accused of?
This question sent me on a quest to find out more about Elizabeth Bathory, this enigmatic countess from the 16th century. Back in late 2015, I scoured the library and the internet for everything I could find about her. When I shared my quandaries with my friend Robin Waisanen, she also became curious and together we began the Bloody Bathory Project.
The general opinion is that Elizabeth Bathory committed the torture and murders of these young girls but evidence is minimal and speculative. The history is confusing, often taking on myth. For instance, many believe (and it's in almost every article) that Elizabeth Bathory bathed in the blood of virgins. This rumor --which is one of the most notable rumors surrounding Bathory -- is false. The rumor was started 200 years after Bathory was already sealed in a wooden box.
There is something in our human nature that loves to build people up just to tear them down. We love to make idols, and then vilify them. Bathory was and continues to be an enigma. She is truly unknown to us, which makes her all the more interesting, and the mystery surrounding her that much more provoking.
I became interested in immersive theatre since visiting New York City and seeing Punchdrunk's Sleep No More at the McKitterick Hotel. I wanted the audience for Bathory to be as curious as I was, and this seemed like a good way to create space for both ambiguity and intimacy. By making this story immersive, we allow the audience to have direct experience with the story and its characters; giving them the power to decide her fate gives them purpose and investment in the story. Immersive theatre does this in a way that regular seated theatre cannot. There is an exclusivity about it, a gathering, a camaraderie created. The audience is not just watching the story -- they are a part of it. I believe we attend the theatre because we want to experience something outside of ourselves and our own lives.
Over the last four years, we've molded and transformed the story of Elizabeth Bathory through workshops and readings. It continues to grow and evolve and we're excited to see what it'll become. I can't wait to share this story with you.