Hurricane Katrina was a tragic event and, like all tragic events, we deal with it the best way we can. We try to make sense of it and we try to help the victims. Students at UR are doing just that with a number of Katrina-related events coming up this year that will hopefully have an impact on how the victims and students on campus deal with the tragedy.

In the next few weeks there will be three distinct events all linked to Hurricane Katrina. The first is The Lower Depths, one of two plays The UR International Theatre is performing this semester. It is a contemporary adaptation of Maxim Gorky’s masterpiece written by the artistic director of UR’s International Theatre Program, Nigel Maister. The premiere is Thurs., Oct. 19 at 8 p.m.

The original play was set in turn-of-the-century Russia and depicted lower-class citizens in a lodging house. Maister saw similarities to Katrina and decided to update it.

“The play includes people who felt that they were brought down by society,” Maister said. “The polarization of race that Katrina showed in our society was very apropos to this play.”

In conjunction with the play, Todd Union will be screening Spike Lee’s documentary “When The Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts.” Originally shown on HBO, the film discusses the aftermath of Katrina, focusing on the suffering of the victims and their will to survive. While a date is not yet set, the film will be screened around the opening night of the play.

“We are planning on showing the documentary around the same time as the play as a separate event that will give the campus an opportunity to learn about the aftermath of Katrina on a very realistic level,” senior Amanda Doyle, a member of the stage crew, said. Students should be able to better appreciate both the play and the movie after watching a factual and a fictional account.

While the play and the movie raise awareness and sympathy for victims of Katrina, a third event will raise money to help those victims. Sophomore Julie Eaton is a transfer student from Tulane University, where she witnessed firsthand the aftermath of the hurricane. She is in the process of organizing a fundraiser for Tulane students from the New Orleans region who lost their homes or possessions.

The fundraiser, still in the planning phase, will be set as a huge Mardi Gras party. It will take place during Greek Week, Nov. 13-18, and will be sponsored by the Panhellenic Association and possibly the Fraternity President’s Council and Multicultural Greek Community. The plan is for a big party at a local bar with paid admission. There will be beads and tickets sold ahead of time in the weeks leading up to the event as well as other events, such as a cake eating contest. The whole party will be New Orleans themed and will include Cajun food and cocktails.

The fundraiser will help New Orleans natives with their cost of living needs. Tulane is paying for the students’ educations but does not have enough money at its disposal to provide books, housing or meal plans for the students.

“Most of these families have a large financial burden as it is and still have no place to live,” Eaton said. “College is stressful enough without worrying about a stable place to sleep at night and how to pay for a meal, so this fundraiser is especially dedicated to helping these students.”

Wrobel can be reached at

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