The Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at Auburn University and Auburn Area Community Theatre (AACT) have teamed up to bring award-winning playwright Alicia Kester to town to showcase her exciting new play, “Water Spirits.” The staged reading of the play will be free to the public on June 8 at 6 p.m. at the museum. There will also be a Meet-the-Playwright reception at the Opelika Bottling Plant on June 7 at 6 p.m.

“Water Spirits” is a play that explores the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the experience of people coming home to the devastation of the lower ninth ward, and the things that are lost when people are forcibly displaced. The central character, Denise, returns to an ancestral home only to find that more than just her memories are submerged beneath the waters flooding her living room.

“Water Spirits” was a semi-finalist for the Eugene O’Neill Playwright’s Conference and the Garry Marshall Theater New Works Festival.

Kester (she/her) is a Black, mixed-race playwright, poet, fiction writer and filmmaker. She draws on both her Yoruba (Nigerian) and Louisiana Creole heritages, as well as her queer, disabled and first-generation identities to address themes of migration, familial constructs, tribalism, environmentalism, the physical and/or racialized body and current events. She often explores speculative genres, infusing magical realism, absurdism or futurism within mundane or hyper-realist contexts in her writing. Kester said she is looking forward to an upcoming residency at The Hambidge Center in Georgia.

The reception, free to attend, will provide an opportunity to meet the playwright the evening before the reading, ask questions and discuss the writing process. The reception will be held on Wednesday, June 7, upstairs at the Bottling Plant Event Center located at 614 N. Railroad Ave. in Opelika. The reception will begin at 6 p.m.

An abridged staged reading of “Water Spirits” directed by Abdul-Khaliq Murtadha, assistant professor of theater and dance at Auburn University, will be presented at 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 8, at the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at Auburn University, located at 901 S. College St. in Auburn. There will be a talk-back with the playwright immediately following the performance. This is a free event, and all are encouraged to attend.