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‘Storm in the Barn’ a quintessentially American fable about courage in the face of environmental disaster


The Alliance Youth Theatre brings The Storm in the Barn to the Foulds Theatre stage April 12-14. Like many fairy tales, The Storm in the Barn balances darkness and danger with a spirit of optimism and clear moral imperative.

The story takes place in Kansas in 1937, during an environmental disaster known today as The Dust Bowl. It began in 1930 when a severe drought seized the Midwest and southern Great Plains. Massive dust storms began the ensuing year. A series of droughts followed. By 1934, an estimated 35 million acres of formerly cultivated land had been rendered useless for farming, while another 125 million acres—an area roughly three-quarters the size of Texas—was rapidly losing its topsoil.

Today we know that the disaster resulted from an extended drought caused by high sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean that interfered with the normal operation of the Jet Stream combined with over-farming that replaced the prairie’s native grasslands with wheat and bare unused fields. But people didn’t know this in 1937. Speculation ran rampant, but 11-year-old Jack Clark has discovered the cause in an abandoned barn next door. It’s a sinister shadow with a face like rain, a creature with a plan to deprive humans of water forever more.  And it’s causing families to disappear overnight, the steady spread of a mysterious illness called Dust Dementia and an increasing level of fear, anger and panic in the small town in which Jack and his family live.

This quintessentially American fable uses haunting music and startling imagery to ask:  When everyone says you’re too small to be the hero of any story, where do you find the strength to save your family … and the world?

For more information, please read here.

April 3, 2024.

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