A decimat“If given the opportunity to talk to one another as human beings, there’s a lot of humanity in the city,” he said. “There are no good guys and bad guys in these plays; it’s just people who have suffered a great deal trying to do their best. Every single person in the city was involved whether your house got destroyed or not.”
Biguenet proudest of the fact that audience members told him that he “got it right” in both “Rising Water” and “Shotgun” — capturing the nuances of the city’s specific language, cultural heritage and attitudes. Each production had extended post-performance talk-back sessions, some of which went on for hours.
“No one wanted to leave,” Biguenet said. “They would just tell their own stories about what had happened.”
He described instances when his coat sleeve was wet when he returned home after hugging weeping patrons following “Rising Water” shows, which debuted only 18 months after the storm. He also said that it was difficult for him to watch the production.
He would stay in the lobby until he heard applause at the show’s end and then would re-enter the theater for discussions.
“But a stage is no place for political opinions…what one wants to see are human beings in the midst of change of some kind. A decision to put their lives in balance somehow,” Biguenet said.
He notes that all three plays are love stories, but laments that the storm caused the dissolution of so many relationships.
“It’s like a piece of crystal that has a flaw in it and no one notices the flaw, but if you apply just the right amount of pressure, the thing shatters into a million pieces. That’s what happened here,” he said. “The pressure of life here was too great after the levee break — Road Home, the insurance companies, no help from the federal government — but the couples who survived the experience are like one person now.”
Biguenet said he doesn’t believe that the story of Katrina will be completely told for many years. He thinks that “20 years from now, people will talk about this with whoever will listen.”
Karen Celestan is a writer, cultural administrator and educator living in New Orleans. She can be reached at Karen@mosaicliterary.com.