or Lessons for When the Sky Falls

Written by Jamuna Yvette Sirker

Directed by Lorca Peress


Hudson Guild Theatre, 441 W. 26th Street (Manhattan)

April 1 – 18, 2010


Production Design JAN HARTLEY

Lighting Design ALEX MOORE

Scenic Design LORCA PERESS

Choreography JENNIFER CHIN

Sound Design JOSH ALLEN

Katrina-Hiroshima Wig Design JOHN DALLAS

Costume and Mask Design ELLIE D’EUSTACHIO


Production Stage Manager DENISE R. ZEILER




Lady Mississippi – Richarda Abrams

Teacher Alice – Anna Lamadrid

Bag L – Joyce Griffen

Actor Eddie – Paul Christian Mischeshin

Nurse Claire – Frances Chewning

Phil – Cary Hite

Katrina-Hiroshima – Frederick Mayer

Restaurant Dave – Russell Jordan

Restaurant Beaux – Ross Degraw

A survivor of Hurricane Katrina, playwright Jamuna Yvette Sirker has conjured up a Greek-tragedy inspired sensibility to tell a handful of tales of the recent American tragedy. The characters presented in HELL AND HIGH WATER run the gamut from the mundane to the mythical, and each serves to focus on a facet, or a face, of disaster.

As the play opens, the day is just another in New Orleans, but some of the characters sense the ominous, birds migrating early, storm warnings, and even visitations from another world. Lady Mississippi, a local celebrity songstress of sorts, comes in singing and happy, but Teacher Alice immediately sees a spirit in the form of Bag L. We are introduced to a slew of locals, slowly, going about their routines, until the storm comes, and the chaos of Katrina-Hiroshima, and the many aspects of Katrina and the aftermath the character represents, takes over to the tune of the Beatles’ Helter Skelter.

At times, the action is hyperbole, focused on what must have been the perception of the “refugees” of the storm, forced to navigate the bureaucracy in the aftermath of the devastation. Sirker’s own notes in the playbill probably describe it best, “…the structure reflects the very nature of my experience; it takes the form of a hurricane.”

Director Peress and the ensemble cast have embraced the hurricane style of the play’s structure, which can at times be unsettling, but is certainly a story that needs to be told, and through the filter of someone who was there, and not just reporting on it.

- Kessa De Santis -

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