This season we’re exploring what it means to be an American. We are in a fight for our national existence. In every facet of American culture, there are battles for agency and recognition from different races, genders, and other groups and we see this in the American Theatre just as strongly as we see it in our politics.
We open the 2016-17 Season with the World Premiere of FLOOD CITY by Gabrielle Reisman. Award-winning director Mark Routhier (Marie Antoinette and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) will bring to life Reisman’s striking and quirky story that examines the working class residents of Johnstown, Pennsylvania during both the famous Johnstown Flood of 1889 and in the midst of the steel mill closures of 1992. Traversing time and space, Reisman’s distinct magical realism infuses the words and stories of these distinctly American workers who, more and more it seems, are fading into total extinction. FLOOD CITY will run September 1-18 at NOCCA’s Nims Black Box Theatre.
Next is the Regional Premiere of the new Pulitzer Prize-nominated play 4000 MILES by Amy Herzog. This hilarious and heartbreaking new work tells the story of a young man seeking solace from his feisty 91-year-old grandmother in her West Village apartment after a lengthy and painful cross-country trip on his bicycle. The New York Times called the original production, which starred New Orleans local Mary Louise Wilson, “A funny, moving, and altogether wonderful drama.” Stepping into the roles of grandmother Vera and grandson Leo are New Orleans stage luminaries Carol Sutton and James Bartelle. They will be directed by Big Easy Award-winning director Beau Bratcher. 4000 MILES will run October 20-November 6 at a location to be announced.
In January, The NOLA Project will partner with Delgado Community College for the first time ever to present a massive co-production of John Steinbeck’s THE GRAPES OF WRATH adapted by Frank Galati. The play will be the first professional production to appear in the brand-new Delgado MainStage Theater and will feature a cast of over twenty actors, directed by NOLA Project Ensemble Member Jason Kirkpatrick. Through beautiful staging and story-theatre techniques, the ensemble will bring Steinbeck’s classic tale of the Joad family to life as they pile everything they own into a battered old truck and head west to California in the desperate hope for work and a living wage. Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company premiered the epic stage work in 1991 where it transferred to Broadway and won the Tony Award for Best Play. THE GRAPES OF WRATH will run January 26-February 12.
May 2017 brings the annual return to NOMA’s Besthoff Sculpture Garden with the World Premiere of THE SPIDER QUEEN by NOLA Project Ensemble Members James Bartelle and Alex Martinez Wallace. In this imaginative new play, two teenage siblings become lost in the woods and encounter a kingdom in peril, filled with fantastical creatures, nefarious villains, and the giant Spider Queen who has been frozen by a sorcerer’s curse. Like “The Goonies” meets “The Chronicles of Narnia”, THE SPIDER QUEEN intends to awaken the adventurous spirit in us all as the audience travels through the garden and the young heroes befriend elves and trolls, battle ogres, and learn lessons of courage, kindness, self-sacrifice, and finding direction without a smartphone. Big Easy Award-nominated director Jon Greene will helm the production.
And to end the season in a big way, we are teaming up on our first-ever co-production with Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre to present the hilarious love letter to theatre IT’S ONLY A PLAY by Terrence McNally. It’s the opening night of THE GOLDEN EGG on Broadway and the wealthy producer Julia Budder is throwing a posh party in her lavish Manhattan townhouse. Downstairs the celebrities are pouring in, but the real action is upstairs in the bedroom where a group of insiders have staked themselves out to await the reviews. Will it be the massive flop to end their careers or the greatest new American play this century? Only The New York Times will tell. Artistic Director A.J. Allegra will direct a cast of New Orleans all-stars including Ricky Graham, Sean Patterson, Leslie Castay, Cecile Monteyne, James Bartelle, Keith Claverie, and Alex Ates. IT’S ONLY A PLAY will run June 8-25, 2017 at Le Petit Theatre.