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Tonya Harding, tragic muse? Plays, films and art explore skating’s biggest scandal

The enduring fascination with the case is fueled by ‘90s nostalgia and the feverish draw, much accelerated since 1994, of watching a celebrity behave badly. Social class, and its meaning, plays a part, too.

CHICAGO — Tonya Harding has a message for anyone who thinks she was in on the 1994 attack that injured her figure skating rival Nancy Kerrigan.

“Get over it,” she said in 2014.

Nobody’s listening. In the 23 years since Kerrigan was clubbed on the knee — a crime that set off a media frenzy and became one of the biggest scandals in U.S. sports history — artists have revisited and re-imagined the incident in books, films, musicals and art. (Kerrigan went on to win the silver medal behind Oksana Baiul at the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway; Harding did not receive a medal.)

The latest work to emerge from the saga is “T.,” a new play by Dan Aibel having its premiere at the American Theater Company in New York through June 25. The contemplative drama depicts Harding (Leah Raidt) as a brash young woman who, money-starved and working-class, competes in homemade outfits (not in Vera Wang, like Kerrigan), while trapped in a troubled marriage. (Her ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, also a character in the play, eventually served time in prison for his role in planning the attack.)

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Missing from “T.” is Kerrigan, who is only referred to as “Horseface.” But don’t cry for her: Kerrigan, now 47, recently competed on “Dancing With the Stars.” (Harding, now 46 and a mother, has mostly kept out of today’s spotlight, years after accepting a plea deal.)

The enduring fascination with the case is, of course, fueled by ‘90s nostalgia and the feverish draw, much accelerated since 1994, of watching a celebrity behave badly. But “T.” continues a long-standing conversation about Harding as a misunderstood, class-cornered dark horse to Kerrigan’s…

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