Monday, April 23, 2012

Actor playing Judas hangs himself - a Market Harborough parallel

I am still reading Judith Flanders' The Invention of Murder. On the train home this evening I read about the Whitechapel murder of Harriet Lane by Henry Wainwright in 1874. The Times, at least, gave the case more column inches than the Jack the Ripper murders in the same borough 13 years later.

Like many murders of the period (though the tradition was dwindling by 1874) the case was the subject of a play. And Flanders writes:
The Royal Clarence Theatre, Dover, had The Whitechapel Tragedy running for a week. The following year a theatre in Market Harborough produced either the same play or a variant of it - its only trace is a newspaper report of the execution scene, which appears to have been played out in full onstage (another indication that it was unlicensed): the stool slipped and the actor-Wainwright nearly went the way of the real one.
A welcome little nugget of local history, I thought. But when I saw what was the most read story on the BBC News site this evening it became a little eerie:
A Brazilian actor has died after accidentally hanging himself while playing Judas in an Easter Passion play. 
Tiago Klimeck, 27, was enacting the suicide of Judas during the performance on Good Friday in the city of Itarare. 
The actor was hanging for four minutes before fellow performers realised something was wrong.

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