Augustana College students create emotional production of Katrina: the K Word

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

Augustana’s theatre department continues its season with Katrina: the K Word, a performance presented by a 300-level course focusing on play production. Katrina: the K Word is conceived and created by Lisa S. Brenner and Suzanne M. Trauth, and presented by special arrangement with the authors. Performances will be in Potter Theatre within Bergendoff Hall, February 6 and 7 at 7:30 p.m. and February 8 at 1:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 for the general public and $3 in advance for the Augustana community and may be purchased at or by calling (309) 794-7306.

Katrina: the K Word is inspired by true stories of individuals facing one of America’s most challenging crises. Both tragically heartbreaking and poignantly uplifting, Katrina chronicles the journeys of New Orleans residents whose lives are forever changed by the 2005 hurricane.

The piece is brought to life by the Theatre 350: Play Production class in honor of the tragedy’s 10th anniversary. For the class, students assume all of the production staff positions and work collaboratively to create the finished piece. They are responsible for auditions and casting, directing, designing scenic and costume elements, and stage management.

The show holds special meaning for the Augustana Department of Theatre Arts, as the costume supervisor, Ellen Dixon, was a victim of Hurricane Katrina. She remembers many images of the destruction: a McDonald’s that was only a metal frame and hanging wires, a woman who sat at her dining room table on her front lawn and invited folks to come visit and the Red Cross visiting and providing warm meals.

Dixon emphasized the greatest lesson of a disaster such as this is the importance of community and our need to be there for each other. “Without the kindness of others and the community working together, nothing would have gotten done,” she remembered.

When asked about the creation of Katrina: the K Word, Brenner and Trauth said they took on this project because the story of Katrina needed to be told.

“However, we soon discovered that the story doesn’t exist, for every person who was affected by the storm has his or her own version of what happened,” they pointed out. “What we bring you therefore is by no means ‘exactly what happened,’ but 12 stories based on interviews we conducted with New Orleans residents. All of the narratives are true as far as they were told to us. This play is dedicated to them.”