Observations: New play aims to take audiences on a journey through the heart of New Orleans
Friday 21 August 2009
It is 40 degrees in New Orleans and the air is like steam. The young woman dodging debris on what was once her street is on the brink of tears. "How can it be?" she gulps. "Supposedly the richest country in the world, where we can be in Sri Lanka after the tsunami in less than 48 hours, yet the government could not make it to New Orleans in a week?" Her question encapsulates the tragedy of the city, while its implications have yet to register with those in power.
Hurricane Katrina struck Louisiana in the early hours of August 29 2005. For the next week, despite the presence of the world's media, the US government spectacularly failed to deliver aid to the waterlogged city. As well as the fatalities caused by the the hurricane itself, the ensuing week of inactivity cost many more lives. Four years later, the young woman's astonishment still resonates. I had met her as part of the research for my play, Katrina, which sets out to contextualise, and to answer, her question.
In recreating New Orleans in a vast warehouse on the South Bank, we aim to take our audiences on a journey through the heart of this drowned city. Experiences related on successive storeys of the building give people the chance to touch, smell, hear and see the impact of generations of negligence on one of the most culturally vibrant cities in the world. Homes, offices, bars and churches can be entered and the stories of their occupants heard – all the while, performers and witnesses are sharing the same space and the same light.
In giving to this disaster a local habitation, we hope to make its complexities understandable, to foster empathy with its many courageous survivors, and, to let people make up their own minds about what we can each do to prevent such state-sponsored injustice becoming ubiquitous. Most of all, on this fourth anniversary, we want to do something towards ensuring the preventable man-made tragedy of Katrina is neither forgotten, nor explained away as another fluke of nature.
Jericho House's 'Katrina', written and directed by Jonathan Holmes, runs at the Bargehouse, London from 1 September
Game of Thrones
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Barbarians vs Samoa interrupted by sprinklers as fans criticise lack of Wi-Fi and poor seating at West Ham's Olympic Stadium
- 2 Watch the Supermoon live: How to see the brightest Moon of the year tonight
- 3 Hulk Hogan wants to be Donald Trump's running mate in the US Presidential election
- 4 Blood Moon and Supermoon: September to bring brightest – and dimmest – full Moon of the year on same night
- 5 David De Gea to Real Madrid: Real finally get their man with £29m bid for Manchester United goalkeeper
Game of Thrones season 6: Jon Snow theorists believe Ned Stark's son may have a twin sister
Edinburgh Fringe 2015: Monty Python-inspired Australian Sam Simmons wins comedy award with 'very silly' show
X Factor hopeful Mason Noise: 'How is Cheryl Fernandez-Versini in the music business, let alone a judge?'
Game of Thrones season 6: Director promises most exciting premiere yet 'starts off with a bang'
Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Online toy marathon to launch new film
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
Tony Blair attacks Jeremy Corbyn's 'Alice In Wonderland' politics
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up