One-woman Ghislaine Maxwell show to be staged at Edinburgh Festival Fringe
A Croatian-American performer will depict Maxwell in the physical theatre show, which is billed as "an exploration of the world of privilege and entitlement.”
Kristin Winters, a theatre-maker and actor based in London, will be comparing Maxwell to Hedda Gabler, the fictional protagonist of Henrik Ibsen’s 19th century play of the same name, in the production.
Part of Greenside’s Fringe programme, Ghislaine/Gabler will see Maxwell, the daughter of disgraced media tycoon Robert Maxwell, “trapped in the prison” of his psychological abuse and the consequences of her subsequent actions.
Ghislaine Maxwell, who has been behind bars since her arrest in July 2020, was convicted in December of grooming and trafficking underage girls for American financier Jeffrey Epstein.
The 60-year-old had pleaded not guilty to all charges, arguing that she was a scapegoat for Epstein, who was found dead in August 2019 in a Manhattan jail while awaiting trial. Prosecutors said they were "partners in crime" running a "pyramid scheme of abuse."
Lawyers for Maxwell, who faces up to 65 years in prison when she is sentenced later this year, have applied for a retrial over claims that a juror failed to disclose they had been sexually abused as a child.
Winters, who trained in both New York and London, said the piece started out in 2020 as an exploration of Ibsen’s famous character, who returns from her honeymooon to a life she does not want and attempts to control those around her with disastrous consequences.
Winters said: “I was really intrigued by this woman (Gabler) who was so wrapped up in her own head, and in her privilege and entitlement. She was charismatic and appealing, and something magnetic and mysterious about her.
“I wanted to explore what a woman like that would do if she had lost everything. If you take the human out of it, are you just left with a monster, or someone sad and miserable.
“At the same time, I became very intrigued by the Ghislaine Maxwell story. All of the similarities between these two women kept jumping out at me.
"They were so privileged that had these dominant and domineering figures that are shadows from their childhoods, they seem driven by masculine qualities but also use their femininity to their advantage, to manipulate and control.
"The piece really grew into a merging of the two women, to put them into a conversation and comparison with one another. It centres a lot more around Ghislaine Maxwell now.”
Ghislaine/Gabler will be staged at one of the oldest buildings on the Royal Mile, Riddle's Court, a 16th century royal banquet venue where Scottish Enlightenment philosopher David Hume later lived.
Winters added: “This story is so sickening it still keeps me awake at night. It is an uncomfortable topic.
“But I think the Fringe should be the perfect place in terms of what audiences are comfortable with and to ask how it is that someone makes the life choices that Ghislaine Maxwell has made. What she did was monstrous but I hope to question how that came about and what brought her to that place.”
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