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Wednesday, September 27, 2023


Katrina story touches home

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Theater has a way of bringing people together to celebrate life and examine crisis. Katrina: The Bridge, which premiered Friday at the Wortham Theatre, tells the story of eight strangers working together to survive. The play mirrors the camaraderie among Gulf Coast residents after Hurricane Ike devastated the region.

"Theater and art are really a reflection of society, and this is literally what our society is going through right now," Director Steven Wallace said.

Katrina: The Bridge focuses on relationships and serves as a means of healing.

"Part of what human beings do when things go badly or something painful happens is look for similar experiences that other people have had. We try to connect with other people," actress Demetria Thomas said.

Audience members will find parallels between the characters and themselves, having survived a horrible storm a few weeks ago.

"Houston became a community," Wallace said. "This big, huge city became a community. I think the same thing happened in New Orleans. The people survived because they became a community and they were able to gather together whatever resources they had to survive and move on."

After Ike, neighbors shared food and water, helped remove debris and opened their homes to those without power.

"I had students come to me who had just been displaced out of apartments, who had everything they owned destroyed, but they’re in an artistic community here that helps them to survive," Wallace said.

City officials also played a big role in coordinating a speedy recovery for many of the people with power and food.

"I have such admiration for Houston," Wallace said. "I really think that the city, maybe because it worked so much with the Katrina survivors, became acutely aware of what can happen when you’re not prepared. I’m totally impressed with the city, with the leadership in the city, the mayor and everybody."

Wallace decided to provide an outlet for people to share their stories.

"After the performance, the audience is urged to write a short note about their hurricane experiences," Wallace said.

What the show really celebrates is unity and selflessness, which transcend destruction and despair.

"Something theater teaches us is compassion," Thomas said, "That would be the larger message from watching this piece. I think that is the larger lesson for us as a culture."

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