M.E.H. Lewis doesn’t mess around. Undaunted by the hugely complex scientific, ethical, philosophical, and metaphysical problems of erasing memories, she did what she’s known for: research. Meticulous, unflinching, outrageously thorough research distinguishes all M.E.H. Lewis' work.
Real, current, solid science informs this work. As Lewis says, "The science...is primarily based on Todd Sacktor's work. He discovered the process by...effectively deleting the memory (actually allowing it to fade, like a short-term memory). This has been done in rats and chimpanzees, and some scientists predict that we'll be able to "delete" pinpoint memories in humans within the decade."
Freshly Fallen Snow asks the question: “If it were possible to cure post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), wouldn't it be a wonderful breakthrough?” Why wouldn’t you want to lose those tortured memories? One would expect this to be a clear cut, simple choice—a relief. But the complexities mount even as the pain of these tortured souls plays out before us.
Neurologist Dr. Jane Smith (Kristen D’Aurelio) wants to help her mother (Ann Whitney) overcome her recurring nightmares of her terrifying childhood experiences during WWII and the fire bombing of Dresden. She’s excited that she can help her mom with the same treatment she’s researching for veterans with PTSD. Her mother cherishes her memories, tangled as they are with terror. Come and see why. See why it's so difficult to choose. See if you agree.
And then there's AJ (Kelly O’Sullivan), an Iraqi veteran mentally crippled by her wartime horrors. Isn’t she delighted and optimistic about the relief of forgetfulness? Not this soldier. She needs to be tough-minded. Does she need the horrific memories to be tough-minded? Freshly Fallen Snow provides stunning, compelling, heart breaking answers—plus plenty of questions to go with them.
The supporting cast--Abu Ansari, Michael McKeogh and Mildred Langford––seamlessly changes characters as the situations flash forward and back. As surreal as it can and does get, it never stops being painfully believable. Honestly, I forgot completely that I was watching a play and these were actors. The production and the actors were so perfectly interwined. It was a totally gripping expereince.
The deceptively simple set exemplifies the brain. The backdrop of cables look like dendrites, the branches that carry the neural impulses of the brain. The lighting and projections flash like flashes of insight or, just as likely, flashbacks of horrors. And, of course, it is here that we watch as the characters switch back and forth from the present to the painful places where the memories are still alive and incredibly vivid.
About the Playwright
M.E.H. Lewis, is a remarkable artist-storyteller. Her masterful handling of the profoundly challenging work she routinely chooses is inspiring. She is dedicated to finding, revealing and penetrating the truth.
An internationally produced, award-winning playwright, she is a two-time Illinois Arts Council Fellow. Her work, seen around the world, has earned distinguished awards including the Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Work. Two of her plays will be featured in the 2012 International Women's Theatre Conference in Stockholm. Lewis is a resident playwright at Chicago Dramatists and a member of The Dramatists Guild.
About the Director
Meghan Beals McCarthy is a director, dramaturg, and arts administrator and has been an Associate Artist with Chicago Dramatists for several years. Prior to joining the Chicago Dramatists staff as Associate Artistic Director, she served as Literary Manager and Resident Dramaturg at Northlight Theatre. As a director, Meghan worked with the notables Goodman, Steppenwolf, and Northlight, as well as many others.
The Production Design
Becky Mork is the production manager with scenic design by Courtney O’Neill, lighting design by Casey Diers, costume design by Ruthanne Swanson and projections design by Davonte Johnson
Since 1979, Chicago Dramatists has been dedicated to a single mission—the development and advancement of playwrights and new plays. Simply put, Chicago Dramatists is a safe and creative place where playwrights, theatre artists, audiences, producers, and donors can join forces to build the theatre of the future.
Don’t Miss It!
You have even more incentive to see Freshly Fallen Snow: the tickets are now HALF PRICE!
Performances are Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 pm, through October 28, 2012. Individual ticket prices are now $16, and student tickets are now $7.50 for all Thursday performances. For more information or reservations visit www.chicagodramatists.org or call 312.633.0630. Located at 1105 W. Chicago Avenue.