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New Raven Play Focuses On Survival During Hurricane Katrina

“There was a time when tens of thousands of New Orleans homes were stewing in fetid floodwaters.” The destruction, according to The Times-Picayune Editorial Board, was the result of Hurricane Katrina, a Category 3 hurricane that made landfall in New Orleans on Aug. 29, 2005.

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Photo Raven Theatre

“The Play About My Dad,” the Raven Theatre’s Midwest premiere of a play by Boo Killebrew, focuses on Killebrew’s father, a doctor in Gulfport, Mississippi, who stayed behind during the hurricane to tend to those who couldn’t or wouldn’t evacuate to safety.

According to Raven Theatre’s website, “their fights for survival against the storm are played against the backdrop of the doctor’s relationship with his daughter.”

Ten years later, it’s still unclear how many people died as a result of what U.S. News & World Report’s website said is the third-deadliest hurricane in U.S. history. But the devastation was extensive. Raven’s production of what it calls a mega-theatrical tragicomedy was timed to be staged shortly after Katrina’s 10th anniversary, but John Olson, director of marketing and press for Raven Theatre, said the play’s themes are broader than just that.

“We loved the characters and the mix of humor and tension in the writing,” he said. “There are several layers to the themes. At the surface, there are the life and death struggles as the characters face the storm. Just below that, though, is a theme of separation of parents and children. Some of the characters have already been separated from their children or parents as the play begins — others become separated by the end of the play.”

Olson said the stories are told as a “play within a play,” a technique that differs somewhat from the traditional stage realism many people associate with Raven Theatre. “But we are very interested in exploring the work of new writers like Boo Killebrew and working in different styles and structures in addition to realism,” he added. “We’re also very anxious to present the work of female writers, who we believe have been under-represented in Chicago theaters.”

Directed by Marti Lyons, “The Play About My Dad” began Oct. 26 and will continue until Nov. 28 on the theatre’s west stage. Playtimes are 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays. There are 3:30 p.m. performances on Saturdays. and Sundays. There will be no performances on Thanksgiving.

General admission tickets are $42. 

For more information, visit www.raventheatre.com or call 773-338-2177.


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