‘Until the Flood,’ the Story of Michael Brown, Moves from the Rep to Chicago

Dael Orlandersmith, Pulitzer Prize finalist, actress, poet and playwright, has concluded her show at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater.

Until the Flood chronicles the story of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old black man fatally shot by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, during the summer of 2014. Brown was a suspect in the robbery of a convenience store, but he was unarmed. The shooting sparked protests that rocked the area for weeks following.

Six bullets hit Brown’s body. When the St. Louis County grand jury decided not to indict Darren Wilson, the officer who shot him, more protests erupted, propelling the #BlackLivesMatter social movement into full swing.

After hundreds of interviews, Orlandersmith brought to life eight, unique characters to explore the shooting’s various reactions. These stories were meant to reflect a diverse collection of human perspectives and emotions to give a voice to the Ferguson community.

The show has now been brought to Chicago’s Goodman Theatre and received a 3.5-star (out of 4 stars) review from the Chicago Tribune’s Chris Jones. On top of that, it was recently nominated for a Drama League Award for Outstanding Production after its spectacular New York debut where it was also named a New York Times Critic’s Pick.

Jones writes in the Chicago Tribune, “‘Until the Flood’ is so palpably compassionate, it achieves a great beauty by bringing us together rather than driving us apart.”

More than 7,000 people attended the play during its Milwaukee run. Each show was also accompanied by Act II Dialogues, a program of Mpact, the Rep’s new community engagement and education platform. With Mpact, the Rep hopes to make a change in the Milwaukee community. The program uses theater to connect different communities, to bring people together in a creative way to make a difference. Community leaders shared their own responses and gave opportunities for audience members to join facilitated small-group discussions led by the Zeidler Center for Public Discussion.

Now in Chicago, the show will run until May 12.

Watch Act II Dialogues below on on the Milwaukee Repertory Theater’s YouTube channel.