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Frozen
A Drama by Bryony Lavery
Eureka Theatre
San Francisco, California

Eastenders Repertory Company
In Association With The Eureka Theatre Company
August 27 - September 14, 2008

Directed by Susan E. Evans
Scenic Design by Kim A. Tolman
Assistant Scenic Design by Catalina Niño
Lighting Design by Isaiah Dufort
Costume Design by Christine U'Ren
Set Construction by Gilbert Johnson

***

Kim A. Tolman's set design hits on various metaphorical strains with some wonderfully nuanced accents. She contains each character on his or her own blue mini-stage situated on the main stage, each of which vaguely resembles an ice floe. A diagonal line of blank book pages crossing the stage's back wall signals time passing, while forgiveness seems to burst wildly but just out of reach as a cloud of oversized white flowers hanging high overhead.
– KQED.ORG

...wonderfully evocative set by Kim A. Tolman.
– CONTRA COSTA TIMES

***

Director's Notes:
Frozen is a remarkable play, an uncompromising, troubling and affecting exploration of the nature of forgiveness. When Eastenders members read Frozen at one of our informal playreadings about two years ago, we were caught breathless. I have never seen a play have such an immediate visceral impact on first reading. I have been figuring out how and when our company could stage it ever since. Personally, I am drawn to Ms. Lavery's humane and secular approach to an unbearably horrific story, her nonsensationalistic way of dealing with such a potentially tabloid subject. Perhaps the power of this play has been unfairly overshadowed by the unfortunate plagarism issue that arose around it. How ironic and fascinating that this play --all about remorse, conscience, responsibility, compassion and forgiveness--should itself have to be forgiven.
-- Susan E. Evans

***

Background Notes:
Driven to write Frozen after the death of both of her parents within the space of one year, the playwright Bryony Lavery describes Frozen as her first "grown-up" play. When Lavery's mother died suddenly after a routine operation went horribly wrong, her father was consumed with a need for some kind of retribution. The playwright became fascinated by what happens to people when confronted with horrific loss. In Frozen, she seeks to uncover what she calls "the notion of forgiveness. "There always must be hope at the end of the play... Hopelessness is a much safer place. You don't have to work quite as hard if everything is hopeless You can just despair."

Frozen has been involved in a controversy of its own. As source material for Frozen, Lavery credited the work of Marian Partington, the sister of a victim of serial killers and part of England's Forgiveness Project. She failed to credit another major source and was subsequently accused of plagiarizing a New Yorker article by Malcolm Gladwell, as well as that article's subject (an autobiography entitled Guilty By Reason Of Insanity by Dr. Dorothy Otnow Lewis about her experiences treating serial killers). The controversy was resolved without litigation, and the playwright has since confessed that she naively interpreted Gladwell's article as just news; she has since asserted that she really wanted her text to be "accurate." Gladwell wrote an amazing follow-up article, also in The New Yorker, in which he said he found the play "breathtaking" and that, rather than resenting the borrowing of his words, he "felt that they had become part of some grander cause."

Frozen had its Bay Area premiere at Marin Theatre Company in January 2007. A finalist for the 2004 Pulitzer Prize and nominated for four Tony Awards including Best Play, Frozen was the fourth most-produced play in the United States in 2005-2006.

 

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