By: Sep. 19, 2013

The New Jersey Repertory Company in Long Branch will present John Biguenet's Rising Water Trilogy on three consecutive Mondays as part of NJ Rep's reading series on September 23, September 30 and October 7 at 7:00pm. New Jersey audiences should not miss this opportunity to share Biguenet's detailed account of Hurricane Katrina, its aftermath and the effect on the people of New Orleans.

Biguenet's play Broomstick is also being performed at New Jersey Repertory through October 13th. Biguenet has achieved fame as both a playwright and author and has received impressive accolades for his work including an O'Henry Award for his short story "Rose." His books have received rave reviews from the NY Times, Esquire and The Chicago Tribune among others. Biguenet and his wife are residents of New Orleans, where he teaches in the English Department of Loyola University.

Biguenet's experiences and observations of Hurricane Katrina will resonate with many residents of the Jersey Shore who experienced similar loss last October and are still struggling to cope with the destruction from Hurricane Sandy nearly a year later.

"Those of us who lived through the collapse of federal levees and the subsequent flooding of New Orleans share a deep compassion for the suffering of all those along the Jersey Shore who lost homes, possessions and jobs in last year's hurricane. Audiences there may be surprised that my three plays-Rising Water, Shotgun, and Mold-are all love stories. In writing the trilogy, I found that the effects of such a disaster express themselves most dramatically in the pressure they apply to relationships. I know from personal experience that such stress may actually be worse a year after the disaster than in its first few months. Perhaps what we've been going through in New Orleans for the last eight years will help people in New Jersey realize that the story of what happened to them is not over; it's really only just begun. And that knowledge may remind them that they-and the people they love-are still healing from wounds that take a very long time to close."

Biguenet knows first-hand the consequences and the human toll of a disaster like Hurricane Sandy. As he recalls, "We were homeless and slept in a daycare center without hot water our first month back in New Orleans until we found a little shotgun duplex to rent. It took a year to gut and rebuild our house to the point where we could start sleeping there again."

The trilogy is based upon that experience. "The first play, Rising Water, deals with the evening after the hurricane had passed, when people went to bed thinking the worst was over but woke up in pitch-black houses in the middle of the night with water rising eight feet in ten minutes in some neighborhoods. Those that fled to their attics had to find a way onto their roofs by the next afternoon, when the temperature inside those attics soared to 120 degrees. Trapped on those rooftops or in those attics, many waited in vain for help to arrive," said Biguenet.

The second play, Shotgun, takes place four months later, when a white man who has lost his wife in the flood develops a relationship with his black landlady, despite the objections of his son and her father. Shotgun examines the role race played as dazed survivors tried to rebuild their lives in a ruined city.

The third play, Mold, set a year after the collapse of the levees, is about a young couple who, trapped between a bottom-line insurance company and an inept government bureaucracy, must decide whether to rebuild or move elsewhere.

Biguenet commented, "My wife and I have watched couple after couple break up under the stress of lost homes and lost jobs and lost self-esteem; I could not have guessed before the flood that in composing a trilogy about the destruction of a city, I would wind up writing three love stories."

New Jersey Repertory is just one of the many venues that have staged these powerful and poignant works. Biguenet stated, "By the end of the year, there will have been thirty productions and staged readings around the country of the three plays that make up the trilogy."

Seating for the trilogy reading series is very limited. Seats must be reserved by contacting the NJ Repertory Box Office at 732-229-3166. Admission is $10.