It was behind the toilet. That’s where she found it. A folded up note the color of crème brûlée stuffed behind the hotel room john. She never would have found it there if she hadn’t been trying to fix that darn thing.
This is where our play starts—where we meet Leigh. What happens next sets two strangers’ lives on a crash collision course. It just goes to show, for every noise you make in this world, there is always an echo.
“For me, the play is about the ‘randomness of life.’ How ‘luck’ can lead to both fortune and misfortune,” said Artistic Director Richard Hopkins. “And, in the end, it’s not about if we are ‘lucky,’ but how we respond to the events in our lives.”
Leigh and Lee are two strangers who have little in common other than their names. Leigh is a college-educated social justice advocate, looking for meaning in her life. Lee is an aggressive former athlete, wrestling with trauma from his past. As our characters’ stories unfold, so do questions of morality, accountability, and whether any measure of absolution is possible for the wrongs we commit in life.
“I chose to produce this play because the characters both face significant challenges,” said Hopkins. “They both find ways to work through them, hopefully to a better conclusion.”
The two characters share their stories, performed like dueling monologues—lyrical and interwoven. We believe these stories, moving in seemingly opposite directions, must connect in some way. But we don’t yet know how. Our characters, too, move about the stage, almost colliding; always just missing the other in their orbit-like paths.
“It is as loud and as brave and as funny,” said show Director Meg Gilbert of Paralyzed, “as it is quiet, dark, and wrenching.”
Paralyzed by award-winning writer Etan Frankel (Friday Night Lights, Shameless, Gossip Girl, Animal Kingdom, Get Shorty) marks FST’s second World Premiere to be produced as part of its challenging Stage III Series.
“A world premiere is always a risk because we have no idea how the audience will really react to the play,” said Hopkins.
FST first took an interest in Paralyzed in 2007, presenting the work as part of FST’s New Play Development program and giving it a chance to be shared with the public through FST’s Burdick Reading Series.
From there, it was workshopped at a few more theatres across the country, including a reading in New York with actress Cynthia Nixon (Sex and the City) as Leigh. The work resurfaced again with an updated draft in 2012, and since then, Richard Hopkins has kept a close eye on it.
“We were involved in the development of this work from the very beginning, and we worked with the playwright on this,” said Hopkins. “He’s been on the short list every season since then, but sometimes you just have to wait for the right time.”
Bringing this world premiere to life are two actors who are both familiar with FST as well as each other. Rachel Moulton and Alexander Stuart portrayed a mother-son relationship in FST’s production of the blockbuster hit play, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (2019).
Now, they return to FST, facing a new challenge: how to interpret a play that’s never been done before.
“We see through Lee and Leigh’s perspectives how they both actively seek to make things right,” said Stuart. “This play is about guilt and responsibility, and how the two intertwine.”
For Director Meg Gilbert, Paralyzed is challenging because in real life, it isn’t always the “bad people” who do “bad things.”
“Accidents happen, and a single moment can sometimes alter our paths in ways that are irreversible,” said Gilbert. “The inability to act—the ability only to reflect—haunts these characters from start to finish.”
Paralyzed begins playing March 29 in FST’s Bowne’s Lab Theatre. For tickets and more information, click here.