ORLANDO – What is it about Jack the Ripper that continues to fascinate so many people?
Roger Floyd thinks he knows the answer to that.
“His identity is still a mystery, and it always will be,” Floyd said.
“Jack the Ripper” was the name given to a serial killer who stalked impoverished areas in the Whitechapel district of London in 1888. The Ripper targeted female prostitutes from the slums, cutting their throats and then mutilating them, even removing the internal organs from at least three of the victims.
Floyd has been fascinated by the Ripper case for at least a decade, after he saw a program about the killer on The History Channel.
Floyd, an Orlando native and actor and playwright, has taken his ideas and concepts about the killer, and put them into a full-length play he’s written called “The Painter.” He first started working on it 10 years ago, and in a sense, the play just keeps changing and evolving as the years go by.
Since people continue to speculate on who the Ripper might be, “The Painter” keeps changing as well, as Floyd explores new theories about the killer’s possible identity.
“He was the world’s first serial killer,” Floyd said, “and we’re never going to know who he was.”
The public will get an opportunity to hear the play this month. On Friday, Jan. 27 at 9 p.m. and Saturday, Jan. 28 at 8 p.m., Floyd will stage a reading of “The Painter” at the Lofts at Sam Flax, 1800 E. Colonial Drive. He and actress Samantha O’Hare will perform the play. Tickets for the performances are $10 and can be purchased by calling 407-898-9785.
“It’s kind of a test run for a full scale production that I want to do of the play,” Floyd. “I want to test it out first, see how it sounds, see what I want to change.”
Floyd is well known is the Central Florida theater community, having performed in a long list of local show.
“I’ve been doing theater since I was a teenager,” he said. “I was born and raised right here.”
“The Painter” has been one of his passions for quite some time. In the show, he plays the part of Jack and gets right into the mind – and the very dark and twisted soul – of this killer.
“I come on full force as this man,” he said. “He is Jack the Ripper, and it’s as simple as that. It’s a glimpse into the mind of a madman.”
Floyd said this latest version of the play is partly inspired by the writings and works of Walter Sickert, a German-based painter who resided in London and died in 1942.
Sickert took a keen interest in the crimes of Jack the Ripper, and even came to believe he was living in a room used by the infamous serial killer. Sickert did a painting of the room and titled it “Jack the Ripper’s Bedroom,” showing a dark, melancholy room.
Several books have been published that suggest Sickert may have been Jack the Ripper or his accomplice, including Stephen Knight’s 1976 book “Jack the Ripper: The Final Solution.”
Floyd said his aim has been to get into Jack’s mind – and, to some extent, look at the dark side that all of us have, with the ability at any moment to snap and give in to our most violent and sociopathic impulses.
“For one night, I want to allow you to explore going into a man’s brain, the mind of a madman,” he said. “And the only way you can play a part like that is to go into your own dark side.”
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