My favorite installation from p.2: Dawn Dedeaux’s “Goddess Fortuna and her Dunces.” Prospect 2 biennial closed this week. What was your favorite installation?
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!
Dear Readers: I will be taking a temporary hiatus from writing for the Holiday Season. Happy Holidays Y’all!
Twas the night before Christmas an’ all t’ru de house,
Dey don’t a ting pass Not even a mouse.
De chirren been nezzle good snug on de flo’,
An’ Mama pass de pepper t’ru de crack on de do’.
De Mama in de fireplace done roas’ up de ham,
Sit up de gumbo an’ make de bake yam.
Den out on de by-you dey got such a clatter,
Make soun’ like old Boudreau done fall off his ladder.
I run like a rabbit to got to de do’,
Trip over de dorg an’ fall on de flo’.
As I look out de do’in de light o’ de moon,
I t’ink, “Mahn, you crazy or got ol’ too soon.”
Cux dere on de by-you w’en I stretch ma’neck stiff,
Dere’s eight alligator a pullin’ de skiff.
An’ a little fat drover wit’ a long pole-ing stick,
I know r’at away got to be ole St.Nick.
Mo’ fas’er an’ fas’er de’ gator dey came
He whistle an’ holler an’ call dem by name:
“Ha, Gaston! Ha, Tiboy! Ha, Pierre an’ Alcee’!
Gee, Ninette! Gee, Suzette! Celeste an’Renee’!
To de top o’ de porch to de top o’ de wall,
Make crawl, alligator, an’ be sho’ you don’ fall.”
Like Tante Flo’s cat t’ru de treetop he fly,
W’en de big ole houn’ dorg come a run hisse’s by.
Like dat up de porch dem ole ‘gator clim!
Wit’ de skiff full o’ toy an’ St. Nicklus behin’.
Den on top de porch roof it soun’ like de hail,
W’en all dem big gator, done sot down dey tail.
Den down de chimney I yell wit’ a bam,
An’ St.Nicklus fall an’ sit on de yam.
“Sacre!” he axclaim, “Ma pant got a hole
I done sot ma’se’f on dem red hot coal.”
He got on his foots an’ jump like de cat
Out to de flo’ where he lan’ wit’ a SPLAT!
He was dress in musk-rat from his head to his foot,
An’ his clothes is all dirty wit’ ashes an’ soot.
A sack full o’ playt’ing he t’row on his back,
He look like a burglar an’ dass fo’ a fack.
His eyes how dey shine his dimple, how merry!
Maybe he been drink de wine from de blackberry.
His cheek was like a rose his nose a cherry,
On secon’ t’ought maybe he lap up de sherry.
Wit’ snow-white chin whisker an’ quiverin’ belly,
He shook w’en he laugh like de stromberry jelly!
But a wink in his eye an’ a shook o’ his head,
Make my confi-dence dat I don’t got to be scared.
He don’ do no talkin’ gone strit to hi work,
Put a playt’ing in sock an’ den turn wit’ a jerk.
He put bot’ his han’ dere on top o’ his head,
Cas’ an eye on de chimney an’ den he done said:
“Wit’ all o’ dat fire an’ dem burnin’ hot flame,
Me I ain’ goin’ back by de way dat I came.”
So he run out de do’ an, he clim’ to de roof,
He ain’ no fool, him for to make one more goof.
He jump in his skiff an’ crack his big whip,
De’ gator move down, An don’ make one slip.
An’ I hear him shout loud as a splashin’ he go,
“Merry Christmas to all ’til I saw you some mo’!”
-Cajun Night Before Christmas by James Rice
A classic from 2003…
Fred LeBlanc for Gambit on September 9, 2003
The personalities in New Orleans are about as dimensional as a doberge cake. The multifaceted levels of the cultural dynamics have left writers baffled with how to describe the functioning chaos that ensues when the participants interact with one another, serving only to activate and propel their chaotic tendencies in a hermeneutic spiral. Few writers have accurately described this active element in New Orleans culture. It takes someone with keen observation skills, a penchant for social analysis and an intimate knowledge of the cultural landscape.
John Kennedy Toole holds just this trinity in his work Confederacy of Dunces providing a topographic map of New Orleans personalities. The main character, Ignatius J. Reilly, is an over schooled and uninspired 30-something living in his mothers home in Uptown New Orleans. The reader delves even deeper into the mind of the New Orleans mentality through the writings of Ignatius explaining in great detail his many schemes and organizational aspirations. The writings are so detailed into the worldview of the protagonist that I couldn’t help but share some of my favorite excerpts from Ignatius’ writings in the novel:
“The only excursion of my life outside of New Orleans took me through the vortex to the whirlpool of despair: Baton Rouge…New Orleans is, on the other hand, a comfortable metropolis which has a certain apathy and stagnation which I find inoffensive.”
“…I avoid that bleak first hour of the working day during which my still sluggish senses and body make every chore a penance. I find that in arriving later, the work which I do perform is of much higher quality.”
“Their movement into power will be, in a sense, only a part of the global movement toward opportunity, justice, and equality for all. (For example, can you name one good, practicing transvestite in the Senate? No! These people have been without representation long enough. Their plight is a national, a global disgrace.)”
With a Dr. Nut in my belly and a Lucky Dog on my chin, I say good day!