NPR's Michele Norris says Hurricane Katrina was a line of demarcation for her. Reporting from New Orleans and the Gulf Coast after the storm and floods, she found herself compelled to work with emotion in her journalism in a new way.
Norris calls the melding of journalism with theatrical storytelling in Water±: Stories of Change an extension of that process that began post-Katrina. She also describes some of the storylines of Water± from a firefighting smoke jumper to a young girl who collects water for her family.
Director Kenny Leon sees an exciting challenge in bringing journalism to the stage, and says the process of working with NPR has helped him see artistry in the craft of producing news. Leon is fresh off a Tony Award win for "A Raisin in the Sun," and actor Anika Noni Rose from that production will also take part in Water. Leon sees the event as a way to continue the art and practice of storytelling, in a new form, and says he's more excited to take this on than doing a new Broadway play.
As reported in a New York Times article, NPR Presents is the network's new live events arm, incorporating public forums, theatrical events, and other innovative forms of journalism-based storytelling and communication.
The October 25 performance at New Orleans' Saenger Theater marks the world premiere Water±:Stories of Change, which travels New York, Detroit, Seattle and other cities after New Orleans.