by Deborah Zoe Laufer
directed by Lisa Adler
Based on a true story, this fast-paced, heartfelt tale by the author of Horizon’s popular End Days is a current NY Times Critics Pick.
Jillian, an ambitious geneticist, is racing against her own genetic clock to solve scientific mysteries that will save both a Native American tribe and her own 4-year-old daughter. She jumps at the chance to do ground-breaking research to find out why an ancient tribe in the Grand Canyon is being devastated by diabetes. But as Jillian uncovers the truth about the tribe’s origin, her research threatens to destroy their most sacred traditions. At the same time, she and her husband face off with a monster lurking in Jillian’s own DNA – and possibly her daughter’s. With today’s science moving at breakneck speed, how much knowledge is too much?
“A thoughtful and engrossing play”—The New York Times: Critics Pick (August 18, 2015), currently playing Off-Broadway in a co-production between Primary Stages and Ensemble Studio Theatre
“It’s the kind of work theatre needs more of – urgent, challenging, and of-the-moment – grappling with concepts that scare us and intrigue us.”—Cleveland Plain Dealer
“A beautifully woven, cleverly conceived and highly entertaining tapestry of storytelling”—Cleveland Jewish News
“Compelling, humorous..A must-see production” —Cool Cleveland
Join us after the show for a community conversation on the following evenings:
Friday October 16th 8pm show: Guest speaker Jason Lesandrini, Executive Director of Medical and Organizational Ethics at WellStar Health System
Sunday November 1st 5pm show: Guest speaker Kathy Kinlaw, Associate Director, Program in Health Sciences and Ethics at Emory University
Length & Content
Informed Consent runs about 2 hours, including a 10-minute intermission. Recommended for ages 12 and up.
Handicap seating limited for this production. Please call to reserve if needed.
Playwright Deborah Zoe Laufer is fascinated by the intersection of family, science and belief. Smart, provocative and funny, she is a master of weaving stories that explore the exciting and scary choices that we all face today as science advances – often before we can fully absorb its consequences. Her acclaimed comedy-drama End Days, produced at Horizon in 2009, was an immediate audience favorite; Stephen Hawking and Jesus helped guide a Jewish family in crisis. We leapt at the chance to bring her newest play, Informed Consent, to Horizon straight from its recently completed Off-Broadway run, where it was lauded as a New York Times Critic’s Pick. In this play, Laufer looks at a scientist, a tribe and two families who must decide whether they want to know the secrets hidden in their genes.
Inspired by a real life story of a Native American tribe and a genetic anthropologist, the research done to save the tribe causes an epic battle of modern science vs. ancient tradition. Laufer takes this true story as the jumping off point and mixes in her personal family history. “I’ve tried to remain faithful to the central conflict of the court case and to honor the tribe and their story. But the personal story of the scientist is my creation,” explains Laufer. What emerged is a tale about ethics, identity, memory and how hard it is for us to really hear and understand perspectives on the world other than our own.
“It asks who we are. Are we our genetic history? Are we our stories? Are we our memories? “ Laufer says. “There are new questions today that our parents and grandparents didn’t have to deal with. Now that we can know so many things about our past and future from our genome, what do you want to know about your spouse, about yourself, about your children? What do you or your loved ones deserve not to know?
A tribe of storytellers or chorus becomes all of the characters in this memory play, helping Jillian to tell about the most important event of her life and ultimately write a letter to her young daughter. “Each of them, at varying times, would like to shift the focus to tell his own story,” comments Laufer. “There’s a tension in the play itself about whose story it is and who gets to tell a story… Also, having that kind of chorus has let me play with musicality, layers, and rhythm..”
Like Deb Laufer, I love stories and am fascinated with science; we share a passion for Radio Lab, TED Radio Hour, and This American Life on NPR. Give me Nova and Neal DeGrasse Tyson. I have fond memories of breeding fruit flies for my high school genetics project. I’m curious about the mysteries of life, faith, our world and our universe. And with a daughter myself, I think a lot about the issues of this play. What was passed down to me and what I am passing down to her – beliefs, stories, memories, genes, abilities and challenges? What can I share with her that she will cherish or that will make her path easier or better than mine?
Who are you, really? What makes you…you? Is our DNA our destiny? Can we write our own story? How much knowledge is too much? Who has the right to know? What is the “truth”? These questions spiral through the play as Laufer spins a compelling story that moves us deeply, and then sends us home to grapple with our own answers. What would we do? Would we make the same choices? What will we pass on to the next generation? What will our legacy be?
Lisa Adler, Director
October 9-November 8, 2015
Wednesday, Thursday & Friday at 8:00 PM
Saturday at 3:00 PM and 8:30 PM
Sunday at 5:00 PM
Tickets start at $25.
Bring your neighbors!
Group pricing is available for parties of 10+. Groups of 10-24 receive $3 off the general admission ticket price. Groups of 25+ receive $5 off the general admission ticket price. Call 404.523.1477 x111 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
*Ticket prices are subject to change. Buy early for best pricing. 8% sales tax will be added to all ticket orders. Internet convenience fee added to all online orders. No refunds, exchanges, or late seating.
Actor 1/Jillian – Bethany Anne Lind*
Actor 2/Graham – Neal A. Ghant*
Actor 3/Arella – Diany Rodriguez*
Actor 4/Ken – Carey Curtis Smith
Actor 5/Dean Hagan – Tonia M. Jackson*
*Member Actors’ Equity Association
Playwright – Deborah Zoe Laufer
Director – Lisa Adler
Scenic Designer – Isabel and Moriah Curley-Clay
Costume Designer – Sydney Roberts
Lighting Designer – Mary Parker
Sound Designer – Thom Jenkins
Props Designer – Kate Bidwell LaFoy
Stage Manager – Julianna Lee*
Here you’ll find interesting information on the world of Informed Consent: articles, interviews, and more!
- “Playwright Deborah Zoe Laufer uses a fictitious scenario, very similar to the original Havasupai Indian case (see NY Times, Havasupai Case), to set into motion an intimate discussion (with only five actors) on how scientific knowledge can open the door for moral and ethical questions, some of which we may not be prepared to deal with.” Read more in this interview with playwright Laufer conducted by Sense About Science USA: Playwright Interview: When Science Is a Morality Play.
- Our lead character, Dr. Jillian Elliott, is a genetic anthropologist, meaning she specializes in combining genetic data with available physical evidence to learn more about the modern day homo sapiens – why we are the way we are and what stories can be found in our DNA. This video provides a helpful refresher course on “DNA 101” – what is it and how does it work?
From www.statedclearly.com, Video written and animated by Jon Perry.
- Here’s the New York Times article that inspired playwright Deborah Zoe Laufer to explore this fascinating story: NY TIMES: Indian Tribe Wins Fight to Limit Research of Its DNA
- Another interview with playwright Deborah Zoe Laufer by Mark Blankenship “Do You Want to Know What Your DNA Says About You?”
- Here’s a link to very helpful dramaturgical research provided by Cleveland Play House from their 2014 production of the play. That production was the world-premiere production, co-produced with Geva Theatre Center: Cleveland Play House InsideGuide to INFORMED CONSENT. Researched and written by Artistic Apprentice Melody Ekstrom. The Inside Interview was conducted and edited by Engagement Apprentice Daniel Park. The InsideGuide is edited by Artistic Associate Rachel Lerner-Ley and Artistic Director Laura Kepley.