The Music of Rebuilding

by August Schulenburg

in Edgerton New Plays

“I really wanted to tell a story that did justice to the work of rebuilding after that kind of disaster.”
-Dan Dietz, Playwright, Clementine in the Lower 9

To better tell the stories of the  extraordinary Edgerton grantees, we’ll be sharing details from the plays and productions. We’re thrilled to begin by sharing this video interview from TheatreWorks about their current production of Dan Dietz’s Clementine in the Lower 9, directed by Leah C. Gardiner.

This drama set in post-Katrina New Orleans concerns a  a musician and his wife as they struggle to reconnect the electricity, the plumbing, and the relationships devastated by the flood of a lifetime.  An onstage jazz band accompanies the story with music by Justin Ellington.

Playwright Dietz speaks movingly about driving through the ravaged city, and how the spirit of rebuilding inspired him to write Clementine in the Lower 9. This video interview reminded me of the post we just shared from Marcy Arlin about Rwandan theatre artist Odile Gakire Katese, and of New Orleans artist Nick Slie’s powerful manifesto of long-term commitment to place.

The creative communal acts of theatre and music cannot rebuild a community, but they can help us to remember why they are worth saving, and why the songs of these struggling communities must be heard, even (and especially when) the eye of the world has moved on.

For those who saw Clementine in the Lower 9, what did that music of rebuilding mean to you? For those didn’t, what plays do you know that best communicate that music?


The Edgerton Foundation New American Plays Program, directed by Brad and Louise Edgerton, was piloted in 2006 with the Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles by offering two musicals in development an extended rehearsal period for the entire creative team, including the playwrights. The Edgertons launched the program nationally in 2007 and have supported 128 plays to date in 50 different Art Theaters across the country. The Edgerton Foundation received the 2011 TCG National Funder Award in June in Los Angeles.

TCG member theaters with a strong and consistent track record of producing new work are invited by the foundation to submit letters of inquiry to plays@edgertonfoundation.org. A panel of readers reviews the plays and one-time grants ranging from $5,000 – $75,000 are awarded.


August Schulenburg is the Associate Director of Communications at TCG. He is also the Artistic Director of Flux Theatre Ensemble, winner of the 2011 Caffe Cino Fellowship Award. He is a playwright whose produced plays include Riding the Bull, Carrin Beginning, The Lesser Seductions of History, Dream Walker, Rue, Jacob’s House and Other Bodies. He is also a director (most recently Ellen McLaughlin’s Ajax in Iraq) and actor (currently filming The Golden Scallop). Learn more here.