I know I said I was on hiatus from writing and trust me after this post I have full intention to sit back and enjoy the holiday season as any good New Orleanian should. However, I am going to make an exception for this one post:
Years ago (about 6/7 years now), native New Orleanians Andrew Larimer and Alex Pomes came together with an idea to create a theater company that brought witty and intelligent theater to New Orleans. At the time Larimer was a theater student at NYU and Pomes was actively pursuing his acting career in New Orleans and true to NOLA form, the duo met in high school while studying at NOCCA (New Orleans Center for Creative Arts).
The idea was simple, bring fresh and undiscovered New York talent to New Orleans where the actors would find themselves participating in real theater in a community that not only appreciated it, but that they could afford to live in. Pomes had the New Orleans connections and Larimer knew the fresh New York talent and in the summer of 2005 the idea was born in their first production, The Cripple of Inishmaan. The production was sharp, witty and dark a perfect satire for the New Orleanian sense of humor. Despite the shows interruption by Katrina, the NOLA project moved forward, offering satirical and intelligent productions every summer.
After completing college, Larimer moved back to New Orleans and the NOLA Project moved from summer theater to year round productions and by this time they had partnered with the talented Creative Director A.J. Allegra. In the post-Katrina, renaissance of New Orleans, the NOLA Project thrived, finding creativity in the adversity of limited theater spaces and funding. The young group not only thrived in the limited environment, their energy and youth actively engaged a once sleepy theater community and revived the cities passion for the stage.
In their most recent collaboration, the NOLA Project teamed up with the New Orleans Museum of Art for an outstanding and sold out production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden where fairies and misfits alike frolicked through the sculptures and pine grove, leading their audiences through the various scenes on foot in a dreamlike trance.
The Shakespeare production was such a success that a creative arts partnership was born. Now on their third production at the museum, the NOLA Project presents their own rendition of Romeo and Juliet. Using the New Orleans Museum of Art’s neo-classical building as inspiration, the company sets the play in the museum’s Great Hall amongst the ionic columns and the grandiose staircase.
The first scenes of the play begin outside the museum, set as the streets of Verona where the Capulet’s and the Montague’s first meet in the famous opening duel. The audience is then brought into the Great Hall for the remainder of the performance, where they are treated to scenes set in the commons of the hall, the steps and even the second floor balcony. In and of itself, the setting brings a romantic quality back to the Shakespearian play that is often missing from modern productions of the piece. Finally a fantastic use of the museum’s problematic great hall design, theater in the round lives at NOMA. New Orleans creativity at its finest, kudos to the NOLA Project for a fantastic performance that literally keeps the audience guessing from every angle.
The show opened last night, so be sure to get your tickets before they sell out!