Milwaukee Chamber Theatre

October, Before I Was Born

by Lori Matthews Running Time: 90 min

February 19, 2014 to
March 9, 2014

Studio Theatre
Directed by C. Michael Wright

Featuring Raeleen McMillion, April Paul & Ken T. Williams

Midwest Premiere
This slice of life story is set against the backdrop of the 1960 explosion at the Tennessee Eastman Company. Three family members anxiously wait for news in this heartwarming and often humorous new play.

A staged reading of this play was presented as part of the 2011-2012 Montgomery Davis Play Development Series.

Learn more about the 1960 Tennessee Eastman Company explosion HERE.

Co-sponsored by:

Jamshed & Deborah Patel

MAB logo

This project is supported in party by a grant from the Milwaukee Arts Board and the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin.

Lori Matthews
Martha Raeleen McMillion
Anne April Paul
Houston Ken T. Williams

Production Staff
Director C. Michael Wright
Scenic Designer Jen Trieloff
Costume Designer Andrea Bouck
Lighting Designer Holly Blomquist
Properties Master Nikki Kulas
Sound Designer Chris Guse
Stage Manager Judy Martel

T=Talkback: post-show Q&A with actors and director
*=Talk Theatre: pre-show interactive discussion beginning at noon
V=ViewPoints: pre-show presentation beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Talk Theatre

Wednesday, March 5, 2014 12:00 PM

An opportunity to participate in informal pre-show discussions with MCT's Producing Artistic Director and other show-specific theatre artists.

more info


Wednesday, February 26, 2014 6:30 PM

Experience in-depth, pre-show presentations led by engaging guest experts who offer insights into show-related issues and field questions from knowledge-hungry patrons.

more info


Thursday, February 27, 2014 7:30 PM

Wednesday, March 5, 2014 7:30 PM

Thursday, March 6, 2014 7:30 PM

After select Thursday evening performances, you can meet the artists involved in a production, ask questions about the creative process and discuss your theatergoing experience.

more info

ViewPoints: Meet the playwright!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014 6:30 PM

more info





October, Before I Was Born release

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

view   download

Media Coverage

Chamber Theatre Sparks an Emotional Firestorm

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

~Harry Cherkinian, Shepherd Express; Matthews’ words have a double meaning in this 90-minute, no intermission production at Milwaukee Chamber Theatre. The storyline is based on an actual 1960 explosion at Tennessee Eastman Company. Director C. Michael Wright deftly balances the growing tension of the factory explosion’s outcome with the emotionally charged atmosphere inside the family home.

full review

After the Fire is Over

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

~Dominique Paul Noth, Third Coast Daily; ...the characters are thoughtfully developed with unforced moments of family humor, plus sly reminders that ordinary real people, not propaganda props, lived through this. It’s all worked out in great detail over 90 minutes by three actors and director C. Michael Wright – a literal “kitchen sink” drama.

full review

October, Before I was Born: Milwaukee Mag review

Monday, February 24, 2014

by Paul Kosidowski, Milwaukee; "OCTOBER, which was developed at the Milwaukee Chamber Theatre and premiered this weekend, has Southern Literature’s knack for thoughtfully infusing the commonplace with Big Ideas about Life and Death. Drawn—in a way—from the circumstances of her own life, Matthews’ play blends the everyday and the fundamental, and finds the occasional flashes of poetry that can emerge from that connection."

full review

Chamber Theatre faces tragedy's impact in 'October, Before I Was Born'

Sunday, February 23, 2014

by Mike Fischer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; "But the heart of this often very moving play doesn't involve the disaster that sets it in motion, but rather Matthews' quiet and probing exploration of how we respond. Do such disasters bring out the best or the worst in those living through them?"

full review


Milwaukee Chamber Theatre taps past in 'October, Before I Was Born'

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

by Jim Higgins, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; Matthews said she wanted to write about an intense situation where people just can't get out of each other's way. "People say the wrong thing at the wrong time, regroup and try again," she said.

full article

WUWM Lake Effect interview with Lori Matthews

Friday, February 21, 2014

Bonnie North of Lake Effect interviews playwright Lori Matthews for WUWM 89.7 FM

full article

Chamber Theatre play explores tragic uncertainties

Friday, February 21, 2014

by Mike Muckian, Wisconsin Gazette; "Budding authors are encouraged to write what they know, but such counsel often leads writers to also explore what they need to understand. For Wisconsin author Lori Matthews, personal catharsis is the seed of the narrative in October, Before I Was Born at the Milwaukee Chamber Theatre."

full article

Wisconsin’s Newest Playwright

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

by Matthew Reddin, Third Coast Daily; If playwright Lori Matthews could tell me only one thing to report back about her play October, Before I Was Born, it’s this: “It’s not as dreadfully painful as it sounds.”

full article

Honoring A Region: Interview with Playwright Lori Matthews

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

by Marcella Kearns; Lori Matthews, playwright of OCTOBER, BEFORE I WAS BORN, hails originally from Kingsport, TN, though she now makes her home in Stoughton, WI. She was born, as the title of this semi-autobiographical piece implies, less than a year after tragedy struck her hometown. ... "I imagine it’s similar to people who were in Hawaii for Pearl Harbor, people who were in Dallas when JFK was shot,” Matthews says. “There’s something that happens in your backyard that changes the way the world looks the next day. In our area, for a long time, it was this accident."

full article

A letter from C. Michael Wright

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Dear theatre-lover, It suddenly occurred to me what a lucky guy I am! I’m about to direct two incredible scripts back-to-back here at MCT that are as different as night and day! The first is a realistic drama that was written in 2010 about an actual incident in 1960; the second is a madcap comedy that was written in 1989, but takes place in 1934...

full article

YOU ARE THERE: Kingsport, Tennessee, 1960

Thursday, January 16, 2014

From “The Day Kingsport Wept,” a retrospective on the Eastman aniline explosion; by Mary Kiss, Kingsport Times, October 5, 1975. “In Kinsgport, much of life is attuned to the rhythm of Tennessee Eastman Company. Traffic ebbs and flows with the changing of shifts at the giant chemical plant on the southern edge of the city…

full article