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Projects and Programs - Katrina Project
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The Katrina Project – a joint project of ATHE and BTN


To identify, connect to and inspire theatre practitioners who guide youth through performance; and to give young people an opportunity and an environment in which to voice their challenges and accomplishments through creative means. The project also aims to establish a network and registry of these theatre artists and to provide a venue for them to share their stories at national conferences. Finally, the Katrina Project will identify and support a school or program in the cities BTN and ATHE visit.

A Brief History of the Katrina Project

New Orleans, 2007

Five college professors and teachers, representing ATHE and BTN (Gail Humphries-Mardirosian, American University; Gail Medford, Bowie State University; Kathleen Ervin, California State University at San Bernadino; Laurie Mufson, Mercersburg Academy; and Gale Sheaffer, Oak Mountain Academy) traveled to two high schools in New Orleans to work with students and hear stories of Katrina. Karen Berman, past ATHE President, and Sandra Shannon, past BTN President called many schools in the New Orleans area. Two schools welcomed us: Reed High School and O. Perry Walker High School. Workshops with the students were designed to encourage them to tell and act their experiences during Hurricane Katrina.

Denver, 2008

  • Lucy Walker, Artistic Director of Eden Theatrical Center, came to the 2008 conference in Denver and told the story of her troupe’s survival over the past forty years.
  • Dr. Andrew Svedlow, University of Northern Colorado, discussed how local Colorado theatre projects were "bridging disasters."
  • The American University student theatre group and George Washington University raised funds for O.Perry Walker High School in New Orleans.
  • Gail Humphrites-Mardirosian published an article about the project in Dramatists Magazine.

New York City, 2009

  • The committee conducted a live phone interview with Ateja Lewis, drama teacher at O. Perry Walker High School, to hear about progress at her school and from her students.
  • Karen Berman and American University students reported on their fundraising project for the school.
  • Volunteers agreed to call O. Perry Walker.
  • Aileen Hendricks announced work with Willa Taylor on a project uniting Louisiana and Chicago.
  • The committee distributed funds sent to O. Perry Walker High School drama programs.

Los Angeles, 2010

The ATHE Advocacy Committee presented two sessions at the 2010 Conference. 

  • Willa Taylor from the Goodman Theatre and Aileen Hendricks from Southern University in Baton Rouge discussed the year-long project between the Goodman Theatre and SUBR to shape stories of Katrina into a play for students, professionals and community members alike in both cities.
  • Los Angeles Artist Duane Shepherd from Watts Village Theatre Company who works with at-risk youth in film and theatre also presented his work.

Members of the Katrina Project Subcommittee

Co-Chairs from ATHE: Gale Sheaffer and Laurie Mufson
Co-Chairs from BTN: Kathy Ervin and Aileen Hendricks
Members at Large: Karen Berman, Sandra Shannon, Gailann Medford, Gail Humphries-Mardirosian, Eileen Morris, Daniel Banks, Willa Taylor, Melinda Wilson

Visit these webpages to see some of the work arising out of the Katrina Project:

Friends of the Katrina Project

If you'd like to be listed here as a friend of the Katrina Project, please contact the Vice President for Advocacy (

Agencies Working with Displaced Youth

If you'd like to be listed here as a theatrical agency that works with displaced youth, please contact the Vice President for Advocacy (

O. Perry Walker High School, New Orleans, LA
Eden Theatrical Workshop, Denver, CO (Lucy Walker, Executive Director)
Watts Village Theater Company


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