'Hell and High Water' play readings to aid storm victims


PITTSFIELD -- Berkshire-based playwright and Katrina survivor Yvette Jamuna Sirker will direct two readings of her award-winning play, "Hell and High Water Or Lessons for When the Sky Falls" this weekend to benefit the Actors Fund, in support of theater artists impacted by Superstorm Sandy.

The first reading is scheduled for Saturday evening at 7:30 at Barrington Stage Company's Blatt Center, 39 Linden St.

An encore reading is set for Sunday evening at 7:30 at Proctor's G.E. Theater, 432 State St., Schenectady, N.Y.

Admission to both performances is pay-what-you-will. Suggested minimum donation is $10.

The cast includes Frederick Mayer, Alika Hope, Alysia Cosby, Karen Lee, Frank LaFrazia, Enrico Spada, Kevin Craig West, Daniela Malave, Leigh Strimbeck and Tim Brenner.

Based on Ms. Sirker's personal experience in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, "Hell and High Water" focuses on a small neighborhood in New Orleans through the days just before Katrina. It is described as "a story of surviving epic loss and our collective need for stories in doing so."

Skirker came to the Berkshires as a refugee from Hurricane Katrina and met her husband, Tim Brenner, here.

"Hell and High Water" premiered at Hudson Guild Theater in New York, where it has had several Off-Broadway productions.

Among Skirker's other works are "Pink Collar Crime" and "Crossing the Line One-Acts," three of which -- "Crossing the Line, "Hypatia's Last Supper" amd "Ardhi's Revenge" -- have been seen, respectively, at Troy (N.Y.) Arts Center under the aegis of WAM Theatre and MOPCO Theater, Berkshire Fringe Festival, and Town Players of Pittsfield.

Skirker teaches acting and public speaking at Berkshire Community College and is a playwright and teaching artist in Barrington Stage Company's Playwright Monitoring Project.


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