Greg Wohead on ‘The Ted Bundy Project’
Greg Wohead’s The Ted Bundy Project is a solo work-in-progress opening at Ovalhouse this month. It examines Wohead’s relationship to American serial killer, rapist and necrophile the infamous Ted Bundy.
Where did the idea for the project come from?
I’ve been interested in Ted Bundy for a long time and really wanted to find out more about him. I’d go on Wikipedia and look up details about who he was and what he did. One night last year I was up late, looking at YouTube, and came across video interviews that Bundy did just before he was executed in the electric chair. I found them so compelling – they were creepy, but I just wanted to watch more and hear more of his voice. By all accounts he was a very charming guy and that certainly comes across in these interviews. I was simultaneously attracted and repelled and found that very interesting and thought that could be a starting point to make a performance.
A lot of the feedback I get about my work is that it’s ‘sweet’ or ‘charming’, so I also thought it would be interesting to devise a piece that plays with an audience’s trust. I wanted to ask where you can taken them once you have their trust and what happens if you betray that trust.
What format will your performance take?
It’s a work-in-progress, so it will continue to be made after the performance at Ovalhouse. It won’t be a play and some parts will be documentary type of performance pieces, coupled with some autobiographical stories. It will take quite a conversational tone and in some ways be a very relaxed piece.
How do you plan to weave your own autobiography into Bundy’s story?
My line of thinking at the moment is around rule breaking and how there can be a seduction in breaking rules. Some of the autobiographical stories I’ve been playing around with are either about coming up against the decision to break rules and not doing so, or in some way transgressing rules. I plan to draw parallels with Bundy and mix together the ideas of him transgressing in what’s considered a huge, very serious way. It’s all about allowing the two of us to possess each other’s stories.
Do you remember at what point you first became interested in Bundy?
I don’t remember a specific time and I think that’s partly because he is so much a massive part of pop culture, particularly in the U.S. He is always present in some way and is constantly talked about, so I’ve known about him for as long as I can rememeber. This widespread fame is one of the things that so fascinates me about him. I do remember one of the key moments I came across him as an adult. I was temping on the reception desk at Islington Social Services and looking him up on Wikipedia. I remember feeling that I was doing something wrong just in the act of trying to find out more about him. As time went on I did more research and found out more details about his crimes, including often grissly images of victims and graphic details of what was done to them. This too was a strange feeling.
How did you perception of Bundy change with the more research you did?
The more I’ve found out, and the greater the insights I have got of him, have made me look at him more as a whole person, rather than just a monster. There’s been a definite shift there – we have to think about who we call a monster and what other things that figure could be or what other apsects to them there are or were. That feels important to me. Thinking of someone purely as a monster perhaps says more about me than it does about them.
Did you reach any conclusions about Bundy and his actions?
Generally I don’t know if my aim is to draw any conclusions so much as to openly explore and ask the questions. I honestly don’t feel that I’m in a position to come up with conclusions about who anyone was or how they should be viewed.
What, in your opinion, is the enduring appeal of serial killers? Why do they continue to fascinate us?
I can only speak for myself, but one of the attractive things about them is that they are people who are doing these things. Therefore I have to ask myself if I, also a person, could do similar things. Am I also capable of murder? I think there’s a seduction on almost recognising that it’s possible to transgress in such a huge way. For me it is also about death – confronting the idea of death in a very different way.There’s something about the images of death and the people who are associated with other people’s deaths that draws me in, but also repells me. These are difficult issues to confront, but I feel there’s a need to confront them.
The Ted Bundy Project is at Ovalhouse Fri 24 May – Sat 25 May, 8:15pm
Words: Alex Hopkins