Play puts spotlight on child abduction

Cast and crew of the play "Frozen" speak with audience members during a talk back session Sunday after the matinee at the Hipodrome State Theatre. The play follows a character named Nancy as she reflects on meeting the criminal that killed her daughter and the criminal psychologist that studied him.

JARRETT BAKER/Special to The Sun
Published: Monday, January 9, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 8, 2006 at 11:06 p.m.
The idea of a child being abducted is a scary one, and one that most people would rather not discuss.
But the Hippodrome State Theater is thrusting the issue into the spotlight with its latest production, "Frozen."
And along with that, those involved in the play say they felt it was their duty to provide a forum for discussion on the oft-avoided subject.
"We're really using this play as a springboard to remind the community that we have our own duties to protect the children in this community," said Tamerin Dygert, Hippodrome dramaturg.
So after every Sunday matinee, the Hippodrome will host an "Art as Action" panel discussion examining various issues associated with the tragedy of a child being abducted.
The first discussion took place Sunday with Dygert talking about the artistic process behind producing a play like "Frozen," accompanied by Dr. Beth-Anne Blue of the University of Florida.
Community partners, including the State Attorney's Office, the Alachua County Victim Services and Rape Crisis Center, and the Guardian Ad Litem program - just to name a few - have volunteered their time to be a part of the discussions in order to educate the public.
The Hippodrome will also sponsor a "Family Safe Saturday" at which families can get safety tips and children can have an identification CD made, along with entertainment and food.
Chief Assistant State Attorney Jeanne Singer, who will participate in a discussion in Jan. 22 regarding legal issues, said she sees the play "as a great opportunity to challenge our community and to get information out to them about abduction and how to keep our children safe."
Singer said she has always taken an interest in crimes against children, and some adults who don't have children, or whose children are grown, are sometimes less interested in protecting the children of the community.
"Watching over our children in this community is important because they touch every other child and they touch every other adult," she said. "It's important that we protect every child - east side, west side, rich, poor, black, white."
Sadie Darnell, a longtime employee of the Gainesville Police Department, has been involved in the production of "Frozen," almost from the very start. She said she was skeptical of the content at first.
But once Darnell saw the play, she said she realized the positive impact it could have on the community.
By bringing the subject to the forefront, and offering discussions with professionals who have dealt with abductions, the public may realize it does have power to prevent harm to children.
"We should always have our antenna up," she said. "The bottom line is when a child is screaming in fear or acting very uncomfortably with an adult, we need to interject."
Lauren Caldwell, who directs "Frozen" and is the artistic director at the Hippodrome, said she can only hope people will see that the horror of child abduction isn't a topic that should be avoided and kept in the dark - that it should be talked about until people are knowledgeable enough to help prevent it.
"I find it just beyond comprehension and I'm really dedicated to doing whatever I can do beyond the scope of this play," she said. "This has become sort of a cause for me."
Alice Wallace can be reached at (352) 374-5036 or

FYI: "Art as Action"

The following event is open to the public:
  • "Family Safe Saturday," Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Families can learn safety tips and have an I.D. CD made for their child by the Crescent Foundation. There will also be entertainment, pizza and prizes.
    Panel discussions will be held at the Hippodrome State Theatre after each Sunday matinee performance of "Frozen." Discussions begin about 4:15 p.m.
  • Jan. 15, Safety discussion with Ray Davis of the Crescent Foundation.
  • Jan. 22, Legal interpretations discussion with attorney Charles and Chief Assistant State Attorney Jeanne Singer.
  • Jan. 29, Testimonials coordinated by Rita Lawrence, a victim's advocate with the Alachua County Victim Services and Rape Crisis Center, and Gretchen Howard with the Office of the State Attorney.
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