Northern Michigan University 1996 alumna Karen Saari, whose work as a playwright is inspired by her Upper Peninsula roots, will watch the world premiere of Rain on Fire at the FIM Flint Repertory Theatre on Friday, Sept. 15. The show runs through Oct. 1. The play with music explores how the opioid crisis affects one U.P. family. While addiction and grief are themes, so are redemption and finding peace. Saari also injected humor into the script.
In Rain on Fire, Marie comes home to plan the funeral for her addicted mother Lorraine, who left a surprising final wish for Marie and her cousin, a meth user, to fulfill together. Both this play and In the Clearing, about a recovering alcoholic who is convinced he's responsible for a tragic event, were inspired by Saari's hometown of Mass City and surrounding communities.
Saari graduated with a bachelor's degree in broadcasting and a theater minor. In an MLive.com story, she expressed her hope for what Rain on Fire audiences will take away from the production.
"That they realize the day-to-day lives of people who have been affected by the drug trade that has ravaged rural America," Saari said. "I hope they walk away thinking what would I do in that situation? What causes someone to start selling drugs? I hope people who have experienced grief, especially related to loved ones who are addicts, walk away feeling acknowledged.”
Read an NMU alumni magazine feature on Saari's playwriting career here.