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23 Feet in 12 Minutes



Written by Mari Brown

Performed by Deanna Pacelli

October 2011

With only four chairs, a mic stand, and a handful of props, Deanna Pacelli transports audiences into the storm. 23 FEET IN 12 MINUTES is based on over 60 interviews conducted by Mari Brown and Deanna

Pacelli with Katrina survivors and New Orleans transplants. From these interviews, they created seven characters whose interweaving narratives tell the tale of the storm and its aftermath. The stories range from aid workers to the people who lost their homes, some who left New Orleans never to return, some who stayed, and some who couldn’t stay away. More than just a tale of what went wrong during a natural catastrophe, 23 FEET IN 12 MINUTES is also a story of human resilience and hope.

Press and Awards

“I would argue at this moment in time that the survival of storytelling in America depends on

the ingenuity of artists like Mari Brown and Deanna Pacelli.”

Theresa Rebeck, playwright


“A tour-de-force performance by Deanna Pacelli”


“A dynamic hour of theater.”



“A piece so powerful, I didn’t take a single note, my pen was shaking in my hand and

I finally put it down when I had to wipe tears from my eyes.”


Excellence in Performance Award

for Deanna Pacelli from the NY Fringe Festival


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MARI BROWN (Writer) is a writer based in Boulder, CO and New York City. She has led over 200 public dialogues in New York theaters on themes from September 11th to the Chicago Conspiracy trial. Her most recent dialogue series about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for the off-Broadway play Masked was feature on Al-Jazeera English and in The New York Times. Mari wrote There Goes the Neighborhood, the first documentary theater piece created by Word on the Street Productions, in 2003. She has directed over 20 plays in New York and Wisconsin, led numerous workshops on documentary theater, is a member of the screenwriting association Writers Boot Camp, and co-founded the social networking site She believes theater has the power to keep us from being strangers to ourselves.

DEANNA PACELLI (Performer) is a graduate of NYU’s Experimental Theatre Wing. She has performed a variety of theatrical roles throughout New York and the Midwest; favorites include Franny (Franny & Zooey), Camille Claudel (Camille), and numerous roles in So Long Ago I Can’t Remember. Film roles include Melissa O’Neil (Building Girl). Deanna regularly appears in several commercials: recent series include Comfort Inn and Time Warner Cable. In 2003, Deanna co-created and starred in the critically acclaimed one-woman show There Goes the Neighborhood, which garnered interest from Sarah Jessica Parker’s production company, Pretty Matches. Deanna has recently developed an interview-based dramatic education curriculum for middle-school and high-school students which explores the dramatic potential of oral history work. She believes that everyone has a story to tell and a point of view worth exploring.

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