Factory 449’s production of The Ice Child was in its last weekend of performances at the Mead Theatre Lab when comments first appeared on our Web site from New York sources who had not seen the play, suggesting that The Ice Child, written by Rick Hammerly, Lisa Hodsoll and Hunter Styles, was, in part, plagiarized from the New York company Temporary Distortion. Jeremy Barker, of CultureBot, has written a detailed piece on the controversy and the stylistic similarities which have sparked the discussion.
What the DC community has not had, until now, is the response from Factory 449. Last evening, Factory 449 released a statement regarding this issue and provided us with a copy.
“Factory 449 has enormous respect for Temporary Distortion, and we are surprised and disheartened to see them react so negatively to our show. We wish we could have hosted them here in DC to see The Ice Child before it closed, to improve upon the distanced and limited context under which they’ve judged our production.
Although aesthetically similar, the two productions are very different.We set out to tell a very specific, linear narrative, wholly of our own devising and written collaboratively by Factory 449.
The Ice Child took its inspiration from many sources, and while the staging was partially inspired by Temporary Distortion’s 2009 production of Americana Kamikaze, we place equal if not greater weight on the story, tone, style, and acting components. For these we were inspired by the writings of Edgar Allan Poe and Ambrose Bierce, television shows such as Criminal Minds, and from the filming conventions of horror films in general.
We admire Americana Kamikaze, but The Ice Child lives, speaks, and breathes completely differently. In addition to a completely different narrative, the sound and video elements in The Ice Child were birthed from the text and were in no way influenced by Americana Kamikaze. Over the years we have employed major video elements, including large video screens, as well as this style of direct-address, in numerous productions. And while our staging was partially inspired by Temporary Distortion’s production, it was also an extension of multi-media presentation concepts that Factory 449 has been pursuing since our inception in 2009.
If Temporary Distortion deems these factors irrelevant, we feel they overlook a fundamental aspect of creative inspiration. Artists are constantly inspired by each other’s work, and it would be naive or dishonest to say otherwise.
As the great writer Montaigne wrote, “The bees pillage the flowers here and there but they make honey of them which is all their own.”
Surely Temporary Distortion understands that theatre is more than a set of photographs. We can only hope that they will grow to find artistic gratification in that their work is inspiring the work of fellow theater artists around the country. – The Members of Factory 449: a theatre collective”
As our readers may recall, Factory 449 established its presentation style when it debuted in 2009 with Sarah Kane’s Psychosis 4.48.