A Hurricane and Its Aftermath Examined in Katrina, a World Premiere Docudrama

News   A Hurricane and Its Aftermath Examined in Katrina, a World Premiere Docudrama
The events surrounding Hurricane Katrina, the recent natural disaster that devastated much of the American South's Gulf Coast, will be explored in the world premiere docudrama, Katrina: State of Emergency, premiering in Chicago in early 2006.

Playwright Jeffrey Bruner "has interwoven true stories of despair and destruction in New Orleans with those that illustrate the survival of the human spirit," according to the Bailiwick Repertory Theatre announcement.

With six actors and multi-media images, the work will play an open-ended run at Bailiwick's 90-seat studio starting Jan. 6, 2006.

In Katrina, "We meet tourists that tell their story of their five-day hell. We hear from a blogger who chronicled the events from a deserted high rise in the city. And we hear from government officials — both local and national — whose convoluted response and indifference is a pointed contrast with the reality of the situation."

Patrick Rybarczyk directs, with visual images by Mike Tutaj.

Proceeds from each performance will benefit ongoing hurricane relief efforts, and each performance will be followed by an audience discussion regarding Katrina and how we would respond in such a situation, according to Bailiwick. Bailiwick artistic director David Zak told Playbill.com that the script came to him in the mail, unsolicited. The non-Equity company earned a national reputation in recent years for staging Sin: A Cardinal Deposed, the transcript-driven drama about sex abuse scandal in the Catholic church.

Zak said one of the powerful effects of the Katrina script is that it leaves one feeling that tragedy — and tragic responses — could happen in any city. "It shows how fragile our systems really are," Zak said.

The script is undergoing revisions as more news comes out about government response, death toll and more.

Like Sin: A Cardinal Deposed, the new disaster-spawned work similarly "uses the power of actual events, film and video footage, and words from those who lived through the situation to create a potent work of theatre."

A film and theatre critic for the Des Moines Register, Jeffrey Bruner is co-founder of the Iowa Film Critics Association and a fellow of the USC Anneberg NEA Arts Journalism Institute in Theater and Musical Education. He lives in Des Moines, Iowa.

Director Patrick Rybarczyk appeared at Bailiwick Repertory in the original cast of Sin: A Cardinal Deposed, and toured with the show to Boston, Milwaukee and Manchester, NH. At Bailiwick, he has also appeared in End of the World Party, After Dark, Anatomy of Revenge and as Judas Iscariot in Corpus Christi (Jeff Citation & After Dark Award: Ensemble), a co-production with Ulysses Theatre Company, of which he is a co-founding member.

Casting will be announced in the coming weeks.

Katrina: State of Emergency previews Jan. 6-7, 2006, at 8 PM (for $20 a ticket) and opens Jan. 8 at 6 PM. Regular performances are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 PM and Sunday at 3 PM through Jan. 29, with all performances $25.

In February, performances continue on Thursday at 8 PM, Saturday at 6 PM, and Sunday at 3 PM through Feb. 19. For tickets and information call (773) 883-1090 or visit www.bailiwick.org or visit www.katrinaplay.com.


David Zak is artistic director of Bailiwick Rep, Lee Peters is general manager.

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