HE IS one of the world’s most notorious serial killers, who confessed to the murders of 30 girls and young women in America shortly before he was sent to the electric chair in 1989 in Florida.
Now Ted Bundy’s crimes are to be turned into a new show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
The death row confessions of Bundy – a killer, rapist and necrophile who was also a handsome and charming man who lured his victims to secluded places – have inspired the play.
The one-man production, by Texas-born writer and actor Greg Wohead, will be part of the Forest Fringe programme being staged at the Out of the Blue venue in Leith this year.
Wohead, who has been developing The Ted Bundy Project for around 18 months after hearing excerpts of Bundy’s confessions, says the play was born out of a morbid curiosity about Bundy’s reputed charm, the traditional label of “monster” used for serial killers and “the tension between attraction and repulsion”.
Wohead, who is currently based in London, has written blog entries about the process involved in making the show. In one, he says: “Throughout the development process, I’ve kept coming back to that night in November 2012 when I first heard the confession tapes. There’s something about that moment that I want to talk about, that I want to propose in a live space with an audience. With this performance, I’d like to ask questions about what we might feel are the limits to what we are capable of imagining or doing.”
Wohead told The Scotsman: “Because I was born in the US and grew up there in the 1980s and 90s, Ted Bundy was always a part of the culture, so I’ve always known about him in some way as one of these sort of celebrity serial killers around that time.
“I had always been interested in them, and specifically Ted Bundy, in a vague way, the way a lot of people are fascinated by serial killers, I think. I was home alone late at night when I listened to the confession tapes, and found it extremely unsettling and totally compelling.
“I remember noticing his humanity in a way I hadn’t thought too much about before and in a way I wasn’t expecting. So I suppose the inspiration for the show was this feeling I experienced; being disgusted and horrified by the things he was saying – especially knowing that they really happened – but also being really intrigued.
“I actually felt a little surprised at myself for feeling a curiosity and a desire to have a peek at crime scene photos.
“But I think it’s a feeling that a lot of people have experienced, so I wanted to make a show to bring questions about that feeling into a live space with an audience.”
Wohead performs the show on his own, armed with a handful of props including headphones, a piece of rope and handcuffs, as well as recordings from the confession tapes.
He insists the show is only suitable for those aged 16 and over and recommends people think twice about coming if the “extreme images and graphic, violent content” could be an emotional “trigger” for them. Wohead added: “The show itself is part confession (both mine and Bundy’s), part reconstruction, and it’s also an exploration into the power of suggestion. I’m interested in what we’re capable of doing or imagining, so I’m interested in nudging the boundaries we think we have.”