A theatrical collaborative by Dr. Donna Wing and Dr. James Trofatter
In 1868, just under forty years after the establishment of Indianapolis, two murders were committed at Cold Spring that put the name of the city on the lips of the national populace. The ensuing trials captivated Hoosiers’ attention for over a year. Benjamin Harrison was the prosecuting attorney and was determined to find the central figure around which the incident revolved guilty of the crimes. That central figure was a woman named Nancy Clem. Hundreds of people testified for and against Mrs. Clem with vastly different descriptions of her whereabouts on the day of the murder. She never testified. After four trials, two with convictions that were overturned, two with hung juries, Mrs. Clem was set free. The murders remain unsolved to this day.
For over 13 years, Drs. Wing and Trofatter have been portraying the roles of Nancy Clem and Benjamin Harrison as they deliberate the significant and contradicting elements of the case. However, this performance is unlike any other, and offers a unique opportunity for audience and actors alike. This 75-minute, unscripted production in the home of 23rd president of the United States–and true life prosecuting attorney–will engage with a current judge from the Indiana Court of Appeals to evaluate the merits of the case based on 19th century laws and the socio-cultural norms of the time. Drs. Wing and Trofatter, representing the interests of Mrs. Clem and Mr. Harrison, will make their cases to the judge.
“When and under what conditions is the black man to have a free ballot? When is he in fact to have those full civil rights which have so long been his in law?” Benjamin Harrison
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