She was charged with sawing the head and limbs from her husband and burning his remains in the furnace.
She did time for the death of an infant son, whose partially mummified body was found in her attic.
Now Evelyn Dick is back in the form of a one-woman play by a 22-year-old Hamilton woman who hopes to use the story for an important moment in her career.
Megan Janssen of Hamilton will perform Suitcase: The Untold Story of Evelyn Dick during the Hamilton Fringe Festival this month. She wrote the 17-minute play, and will perform it at the B Contemporary gallery on James Street North for a week starting July 18.
'I graduated last year and spent the summer thinking ‘How am I going to do this? Am I good enough to do this? Should I be doing this?’' - Megan Janssen
A lifelong Hamiltonian, Janssen first heard about Evelyn Dick in her early teens, and she became fascinated.
“I was definitely disturbed by what had happened and very curious as to who this woman was and how she could do such a thing.”
Janssen attended Bishop Ryan high school and performed in local theatre. Her high school roles included Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz and Maria in The Sound of Music, and Patti in Grease during Theatre Aquarius’s summer program.
She studied theatre at the University of Toronto. In her third year, the Rosedale resident was tasked to write and perform a piece that tackled her “greatest challenge and greatest fear.”
Dick represented the mysterious unknown to Janssen, who is otherwise a “fairly kind, empathetic person,” she said. “I found it really difficult to relate to her.... I felt the need to find her humanity and empathize with her, and understand her and portray her as honestly as I could.
“One of my challenges was to trust myself to be honest, but to find that sensual centre.”
She did hours of research at the Hamilton Public Library, and performed the show for classmates in 2012. It took months of deliberating before she felt confident enough to step into the Fringe Festival limelight.
“I graduated last year and spent the summer thinking ‘How am I going to do this? Am I good enough to do this? Should I be doing this?’” she said.
“Then in the fall I thought ‘I’ll give it a shot. I have stories to tell.’”
Janssen hopes to forge ahead with her new production company, Theatre Aperio, which means to uncover or open.
Her ultimate goal? To produce Shakespeare in Hamilton.
“Me and a couple of artists have been chatting and are excited about the possibilities of bringing classical theatre to Hamilton,” she said.
Janssen’s new company is among more than 40 that will offer more than 300 performances during the 11th annual festival.
The festival kicks off on July 16 at 7:30 p.m., when municipal election candidates will take the stage to act out Shakespearean plays. It runs until July 27.
Suitcase: The Untold Story of Evelyn Dick show times
- Friday, July 18, 7 p.m.
- Saturday, July 19, 8 p.m.
- Sunday, July 20, 2 and 8 p.m.
- Friday, July 25, 9 p.m.
- Saturday, July 26, 2 and 7 p.m.
- Sunday July 27, 7 p.m.