BOULDER, Colo. — For more than two decades, police have tried to piece together JonBenet Ramsey’s death.
The 6-year-old was found dead inside her Boulder home and now a play at the University of Colorado brings her mystery to the forefront.
“House of Gold” is a play told through the eyes of a character named JonBenet Ramsey.
A lot of the characters in the play will seem like real-life people. Actors and those close to the production say the play is about more than JonBenet Ramsey.
Some of the play’s images almost seem too real. They look like scenes taken out of the family’s home video.
Just like you can’t judge a book by its cover, you can’t judge the purpose of this play by the way it opens.
Emily Harrison plays JonBenet in the play.
“I actually hesitate to say it’s about something that happened in Boulder because it’s not a piece of realism,” she said.
In years since JonBenet’s death, the world was drawn to the unsolved homicide. The crime took place in a Boulder neighborhood where dozens gathered to watch the play.
“I’m kind of curious,” said David Wheler, who lives in Boulder.
“This is seeming to be somewhere more in the head of something else going on,” Renie Cantrick said.
The writer uses a real name and real scenarios to shed light on issues larger than Boulder.
“The play is more of an allegorical look at American culture,” Harrison said. “It’s not a sort of text book version of what really happened in Boulder.
“I always want them to be thinking about the fact that these sorts of things happen to little girls and little boys too, all over the world and all over the country and we don’t talk about it.:
The actors say they thought long and hard about how to pull off the production.
“We definitely discussed doing it in Denver, to give it that 30-mile distance,” Harrison said.
They wanted to make sure it was appropriate.
“I think we needed to know that it was going to make a good impact, and that we could pull it off with being respectful to the memory,” stage manager Rosie Glasscock said.
“I was born and raised in Boulder County, and I’m just about that girl’s age would be had she not been brutally murdered. And for me, the statements that it makes are pertinent to me, my peers, my community.”
Cast members say a play with the goal to raise awareness about sexual assault, women’s rights and a host of other issues is well worth the risk.
“So far, no one has thrown any tomatoes, and it’s inspired a lot of debate and it brings a rise out of people. It gets people thinking about these issues and that’s the whole point,” actress Michelle Moore said.
Performances will run at CU through the middle of August. The play has been in circulation for years, but this is the first time it’s been in Colorado.