Saturday, February 11, 2017

Sea of Common Catastrophe

Showing at 7 Stages in Little Five Points through this Sunday, Sea of Common Catastrophe is a beautiful performance piece that moves the mind and heart. It shows not just the horror that so many who were affected by Hurricane Katrina, but a vast array of emotions—and lack of emotions—the natural disaster wrought on New Orleans.

Sea of Common Catastrophe | 7 Stages Theatre | Photo: Stungun Photography
Sea of Common Catastrophe | 7 Stages Theatre | Photo: Stungun Photography

"7 Stages presents New Orleans' based ArtSpot Productions ensemble as they lead a consideration of the profound transformations that have swept through New Orleans in the decade since Hurricane Katrina, and of our own roles and responsibilities as artists in the realities of gentrification and displacement. A dream-world imaging of a community inundated by a flood of change and upheaval."
The cast's performance and symphonic movement is outstanding. There was one cast member who I was most moved by...Lisa Shattuck, who plays Tobias. Her facial expressions perfectly presented what she was feeling in every scene. Every look, every turn, every nuance is tethered to your own heart...there's no escaping feeling what Tobias is feeling.

The performance is approximately one hour and the evening I went there was a "Talk Back" session with Heidi Howard, Artistic Director at 7 Stages, and Jeff Becker who conceived, directed and designed Sea of Catastrophe, as well as the entire cast! 

I love 7 Stages' "Talk Back" sessions...they're an opportunity for the "community" of theatre-goers that evening to share what they felt and to ask questions. It totally enhances the evening's greatly expands what you just witnessed.     

Sea of Common Catastrophe | 7 Stages Theatre | Photo: Stungun Photography
Sea of Common Catastrophe | 7 Stages Theatre | Photo: Stungun Photography
I personally did not at the time know anyone affected by the disaster. When one particular, unassuming, segment of the play showed two friends talking on the phone, presumably miles apart and away from New Orleans, enjoying jovial conversation and sipping on their over-priced, long-winded titled coffees, it took me back to helpless I felt watching the devastation of Hurricane Katrina on the news and feeling a guilty for not doing at least a little.

I don't pretend to think that everyone can help someone else in every horrible situation, but our collectively doing even a little can have a significant impact. I encourage you to challenge yourself to make even the smallest of gestures to help someone next time you see a life or lives affected by something like Hurricane Katrina. That's what I took away from this performance. 

7 Stages hosts a regular podcast by "a couple of crunchy 7 Stages interns, Sarah Summerbell and Ryan Williams," called "Cereal". In this episode, they discuss Sea of Common Catastrophe and gentrification. Have listen... 

I did not get to see this show opening weekend, thus the reason I'm writing about it so late in the run, but if you're reading this post by this Sunday, I highly recommend getting tickets and going to 7 Stages to see Sea of Common Catastrophe. And check out the rest of their season!

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