Surround Project explores family in ‘Four Places’

by Deborah Martin  |  June 5, 2019

The Surround Project debuted in 2017 with “9 Circles,” an intense drama digging into the damage of warfare borne by those on the front lines, an experience that many may not have had first-hand.

The company’s second offering, a look into one family’s dysfunctional dynamics titled “Four Places,” is likely to hit more of the company’s audience where they live.

Joel Drake Johnson’s one-act unfolds in real time as an adult brother and sister (Andrew Thornton and Catherine Babbitt) take their alcoholic mother (Kathy Causer) to lunch to discuss both recent events in the family and some long-simmering issues.

“This is basically an intervention,” said director Eva Laporte.

Variety’s review of the play’s 2008 premiere in Chicago described it as “a work that really gets under the skin and stays there, making it feel like there must be a touch of the gothic, and of the tragic, almost everywhere we look.”

There is a connection between “Four Places” and “9 Circles,” said Laporte, who founded and runs The Surround Project with her husband Zach Lewis.

“There is this thread of mental health and wellness,” she said.

One of the guiding ideas of The Surround Project is to present works that spark discussion and create community. To that end, the company partnered with two non-profits for “Four Places:” Alpha Home, a residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation program for women; and Jewish Family Service of San Antonio, which provides mental health and other social services.

The Surround Project consulted with Angela White, the CEO of Alpha Home, and Talli Dolge, CEO of Jewish Family Service, to make sure the production is rooted in the real world. There also will be discussions following each performance, and information will be available about the organizations’ work.

The idea behind that is to help expand the reach of organizations whose work ties in with issues explored in the play.

“You can only put out so many pamphlets and billboards,” said Laporte. If you see something in a narrative form, it’s not confrontational, it’s invitational. It’s a way to start a conversation.”

Deborah Martin is an arts writer in the San Antonio and Bexar County area. Read her on our free site,, and on our subscriber site, | | Twitter: @DeborahMartinEN

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