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The House Theatre of Chicago presents



United Flight 232 Parent Guide

Hello! We are so thrilled that you are thinking of bringing a younger guest with you to see our production of United Flight 232. We are recommending this play for ages 14 and up due to the mature subject matter of this production.

This play recounts the harrowing true stories of people on board United Flight 232 when it emergency crash landed in Iowa in 1989. Although many people lost their lives in this tragic accident, a large number of people survived due to the training, quick thinking, and instincts of the pilots, crew, and some brave passengers. Our play focuses largely on the courage and compassion of these people and is therefore quite life-affirming. Want more info?  Read on…

This play is about 80 minutes long with no intermission and it really doesn’t check any of the traditional “Parental Advisory” boxes:

  • Sex?  None
  • Violence?  Nope
  • Language? This play has only one little gosh darn curse word.  (Spoiler Alert: it’s the stronger version of “gosh darn”.)

The more nuanced Parental Advisory boxes for this show might be as follows:

  • Lots of language and strong emotional moments focusing on the idea of death and dying
  • Exposure to the true, large-scale tragedy of a plane crash that resulted in the death of 112 passengers
  • Documentary-style play with many monologues, and direct address to the audience. There is not a lot of actual dialogue between characters

As you might imagine, this play deals with the idea of death and dying in a very real and palpable way. The actors are all portraying survivors of this crash, but the play includes their recollections of those that did not survive. There were several children on board United Flight 232 and there are times during the play where we see how incredibly frightening this experience was for them.  

In addition to the emotional weight of this story, the play gives us the chance to process the complexity of a large-scale tragedy such as a plane crash. Although the play never presents a realistic depiction of a plane crash, this production does not shy away from the life-or-death circumstances of this tragic event.

Much of this story is shared with the audience through direct address with most actors playing multiple roles. It allows us to connect with each story, while remembering these are actors, not real survivors, and we’re all here in 2017 together. This play feels very intimate because of this style. It doesn’t feature other theatre tools like puppetry, films, dance, or live music that many of our plays do.

Our mission at The House is to Unite Chicago in the Spirit of Community through Amazing Feats of Storytelling. We often produce plays that attempt to accomplish this mission through epic stories of magic with giant puppets and dramatic battles between good and evil! United Flight 232 is a very different style of story. But it is still very much in line with our mission as it shares the harrowing tale of a group of mostly strangers who came together as a community and risk their own lives to help the person next to them.

  • Run Time: 80 minutes
  • Intermission: 0
  • Parental Guide: 14+

The Adrienne Arsht Center provides this information to help you make informed decisions when bringing young people to performances. These are recommendations – you are the expert in deciding what your children should see and know best how to help them enjoy their theatergoing experience. Every guest, regardless of age, must have a ticket; babes-in-arms are not admitted to any performance.

Saturday, May 4 - Sunday, May 19


Adapted and Directed by Vanessa Stalling
From the book Flight 232 by Laurence Gonzales published by W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

A Haunting True Story of Compassion and Grace

Winner of the 2016 prestigious Jeff Awards

Adapted from the critically acclaimed book, Flight 232: A Story of Disaster and Survival by Laurence Gonzales, this new play, United Flight 232, is a celebration of human ingenuity in the face of overwhelming challenges.

“I love you, hurry home. I love you.”

On July 19, 1989, a DC-10 jet airliner headed for Chicago with 296 passengers and crew aboard is paralyzed mid-air. For 44 minutes, the aircraft descended without flight controls and made an emergency crash landing in Sioux City, IA. To the astonishment of all who witnessed the event, 184 of 296 survived.

Presented in partnership with

  • The House Theatre of Chicago


The Theater Up-Close Series is generously supported by

  • Zoetic Stage

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