Search | Scattered Clouds, 81 F (27 C) RSS | ||
NOMA’s Besthoff Sculpture Garden (5:00 PM)
The NOLA Project presents this festive comedy that pits two of Shakespeare's most beloved characters in a war of words and wits
City Park’s Botanical Garden (5:00 PM)
New Orleanian songwriter performs at the weekly outdoor concert series
The Ogden Museum (6:00 PM)
Singer/ songwriter who has recently performed at Austin City Limits Music Festival and provided tour support for Raul Malo and the Wood Brothers
The Foundation Gallery (6:00 PM)
A screening of Maya's award-winning animation "Pareidolia" followed by a Q &A with the artist
Snug Harbor (8:00 & 10:00 PM)
The third evening of a chamber music festival that has something for classical aficionados and dilettantes alike
Hi Ho Lounge (9:00 PM)
Hip hop artist raps on St. Claude with his album Trap Hop
Circle Bar (10:00 PM)
Performing tracks from the new album 'What a World'
Facing The Stage
An Opening Salvo From NoDef's New Drama Critic, Jim Fitzmorris
I begin this column as NOLA Defender’s theatre critic amidst a serious theatrical crisis. Not my own, mind you, but one that affects the theatrical community at large. The fringes are full; the center is empty.
There is no empire to rebel against; no powers-that-be to stick it to. Constantine has none of his mother’s old forms to rail against. The air is full of the smell of sulfur, but no one is offended. There is no one to offend.
The Saenger is a monument to the can-talk-about-but-can’t-do attitude of the Nagin years; Le Petit is a victim of mismanagement; Le Chat teeters on retirement; Rivertown performs a self-parody of its already parodic self; and JPAS stands more for quality cultural events than an actual theatrical enterprise. Even Southern Rep, with its quirky programming and Off-Off-Broadway feel, has more of an outsider mentality than its status would imply. It might be a power, but it tries real hard not to behave like one. About the only power that be anymore is Tulane with its Patchwork, Shakespeare, and Lyric trifecta. But no one wants to assault that buttress, because, after all, one does not know from where the next real artistic check might come.
No, my friends, the action, that delicious possibility that something might be happening somewhere, is on the fringe. Literally. It is not just The Fringe Festival; it is the outlying neighborhoods of the city. Theatrical action exists in The Marigny, Bywater, and walks in the roads in between. Artspot, Junebug, Running with Scissors, Ashe, Mondo Bizzaro, Cripple Creek, Inside/Out, AGND, Goat in the Road, Four Humours, and countless other entities make up a ferocious alternative theatre movement that is so vibrant that it threatened to hijack an entire American Theatre magazine article until a loudmouth former Tulane professor pulled it back from the brink. The state of New Orleans’ theatre is like Central Europe of the nineteenth century: a series of loosely associated duchies and fiefdoms intent on existing only in their magic realities.
This is not a good thing, because with the exception of three very distinctive producers, Ricky Graham, Theatre 13, and All Kinds of Theatre, there is little in the way of slick, polished, professionalism in the city. And none of those three producers, as of this writing, has a permanent home. There is something to be said for a 35 to 45 dollar ticket that promises fully realized sets, complicated light plots, exquisite costumes and an overall feeling that what you are seeing is comparable to what the folks are sitting down to enjoy on any given Saturday in Seattle, Minneapolis and Chicago. Productions that feel like the set looked great the Monday before it opened and whose opening night jitters are about an anxiety of ideas rather than worries about the lead’s lines are rare in this town. Without these kinds of events on a regular basis, all the fringe has to rail against are the political class and the financially successful creative class. Those people barely know the fringe exists except when they show up with Paul Chan to make the locals howl at the moon or send in a sea of blue to sink their arks.
God does not need to stand up for bastards in this town. We have enough of them. What we need is some first-rate commercial product… that pays. That kind of theatre needs actual producers: people who raise money. Those producers have to raise money by the thousands from investors. Those investors must choose to sit in shows rather than being in the two-week show before Lent. Those investors must spread the word, through actual marketing, to make theatre an event like Jazz Fest or Carnival. And once theatrical events have that kind of juice… that juice gets back to the fringe who, taking a break from their self-satisfied navel gazing, get pissed off and throw a couple of bombs into the mix. But right now, all the fringe is doing is performing contract demolition work on condemned buildings.
So forgive this newly minted critic if he errs on the side of polish. I am rooting for Irina’s kind of theatre in "The Seagull." We do not have enough good, old-fashioned, audience pleasing offerings outside of some nicely-realized musicals. We have exciting trends with nothing to influence. Wider audiences, outside of that magnificent Fringe Fest, are not coming to see the work on a regular basis. The only way they will get there is if they take the route through the mainstream. Audiences are built that way. It begins with the promise of first-class entertainment. Once entertained, it becomes easier to challenge. Remember, Actors’ Theatre of Louisville Humana Festival takes place only after two Halloween shows and two Christmas plays. Get them in with Van Helsing, Ralphie, and Scrooge, and they will come back to see SITI Company and "The Edge of Our Bodies."
Dead Huey Long, Emma Boyce, Ian Hoch, Sarah Esenwein, Ryan Sparks, Will Dilella, Chris Rinaldi, Lianna Patch, Phil Yiannopoulos, Cate Czarnecki, Jonas Griffin, Jennifer Abbot, Mary Kilpatrick, Elaina Patton, Mike Horst, Devin Bambrick, Katherine McGuire, Norris Ortolano, Joe Shriner
Ryan Sparks, Kerem Ozkan
Michael Weber, B.A.
Assistant Managing Editor
B. E. Mintz
Published Daily by
Minced Media, Inc.