Chances are, if you ask anyone from the Gulf Coast this week why the New Orleans Saints’ Superbowl victory was so sweet, you’ll hear two reasons: (1) it was unprecedented; and (2) it brought swelling pride back to a city still suffering after Hurricane Katrina. Not that New Orleanians have ever been short on pride, but more than four years after the storm, the city is still in need of all the supporters it can get.
Sometimes support is even performed on stage.
Enter Universes. For years, this eclectic, New York-based theater group of writers and performers have been creating a gumbo of spoken-word poetry, jazz, theater, hip hop, blues and Spanish Boleros to entertain and educate audiences around the world. Their new play, Ameriville, which is currently on tour, uses the colliding forces of race, class, and politics in post-Katrina New Orleans to explore America’s moral zip code in an age where the world seemingly rubbernecks from one disaster to the next.
Ameriville, its very title a statement about the small town connectedness and universal concerns that resonate within us all, will make you stop, think, and reconnect with what it truly means to be American in our country.
As an ensemble, Universes is almost formless; they shift from hip hop theater company to chain gang choir to multicultural jazz and blues thespians. Each member delivers powerful, singular performances, some filled with humor, others nostalgia or sadness, all connected by compelling stories.
To prepare for the production, the members of Universes interviewed numerous Katrina survivors and used similar narratives throughout the play to connect to universal themes like war, global warming, and gentrification. America is the great metaphor for hope here, its citizens the connective tissue that leads to its own renewal.
Four and half years ago, Hurricane Katrina ravaged across the Gulf Coast, taking the lives of nearly 2,000 people. Today thousands of Katrina survivors are still putting the pieces back together. The lucky ones are back in their homes, many are in trailers, living with relatives, and many more, still homeless. Ameriville is testimony to their strength and a wake up call to anyone out there unable to see Noah’s rainbow sign.
At one point, the play delivers a prescient message: “Whether you like it or not, there’s a Katrina growing in your neighborhood… When it comes to your city or your town, will you be ready?”
To learn more about Universes current tour of Ameriville,
please visit: http://www.universesonstage.com/press/reviews.html
To see preview of the play Ameriville: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3jodimsxZM