Southern Rep Theatre Joins Loyola University For 2-Year Residency, Loyola Announces 2016-2017 Theatre Season

NEW ORLEANS – As the university’s theatre department enters a new Golden Age under new Artistic Director and Department Chair Dr. Laura Hope, Southern Rep Theatre establishes a two-year residency at Loyola University New Orleans. Both theatres will usher in a series of new plays and re-imagined classics during the 2016-2017 season, ensuring an outstanding experience for both Loyola students and audiences.

         “So many of our students, staff and alumni have and do work with Southern Rep, so this partnership just seemed to be a perfect fit,” said Dr. Hope, an award-winning director, dramaturg, actor, and theatre professor who assumed leadership of Loyola’s Theatre and Dance Department as department chair in January 2016.

         “Both Loyola and Southern Rep theatres have a strong commitment to producing new plays, and enjoy celebrating New Orleans’ culture, and the work of local artists,” she said. “Both theatres have selected plays for this season that reflect concerns regarding social justice, so central to the mission at Loyola. A commitment to social justice is certainly a recurring theme in the work of the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance, and to many of the productions staged by Southern Rep, such as last season’s Big Easy Award-winning Song of a Man Coming Through, on which a number of Loyola’s students, alumni, and faculty worked.”

         Founded in 1986, Southern Rep is an award-winning, critically-acclaimed regional theatre company that produces bold world premieres, the best of Broadway and off-Broadway, and classic plays under the leadership of Producing Artistic Director Aimée Hayes, an alumna of Loyola’s acclaimed English Department. Southern Rep’s mission is to develop and produce new plays that reflect the diversity of New Orleans, to provide professional theatre of the highest artistic quality and achievement, and to establish a creative working environment that nurtures theatre professionals.

         The nearly 30-year-old theatre founded by Loyola Professor Emeritus Rosary O’Neill has long held workshops and summer camps at Loyola, and a number of Loyola students, staff, faculty and alumni have performed or helped produce Southern Rep plays. The two-year residency at Loyola will bring undergraduate theatre students opportunities to see professional plays in development and partake in the production of regional premieres.

         “Southern Rep Theatre has a long relationship with Loyola University and counts many alums on its staff,” Hayes said. “This partnership is essentially a homecoming for us! The Department of Theatre Arts and Dance under Laura Hope's leadership offers many exciting opportunities for exchange of ideas, art and scholarship. We have always worked with Loyola students through our internship program and are excited to expand the opportunities we can offer them year-round.”

         This year’s “Grounded,” a regional premiere starring Loyola theatre alumna and award-winning actress Kerry Cahill, explores issues of contemporary warfare, as a female fighter pilot operates drones in Afghanistan from her home in Nevada and fights personal issues of power and post-traumatic stress syndrome.

         A highly anticipated performance of Tennessee William’s “Sweet Bird of Youth,” explores the relationship between a drifter and faded movie star, as the drifter returns home in an effort to revive his former glory and make a comeback.

         The regional premiere of “Father Comes Home from the Wars – Parts 1, 2, and 3” by acclaimed contemporary playwright Suzan-Lori Parks addresses the struggles of a former slave who fought in the Civil War in order to secure his freedom – and returns home a changed man.

         Following an October production of “Airline Highway” at the University of New Orleans, Southern Rep Theatre will reside at Loyola for two years, while a full production theatre facility is built in Mid City.

         The 2016-2017 season of Southern Rep Theatre performances at Loyola includes the following performances:

 

• GROUNDED

By George Brant

Directed by Larissa Lurry

Featuring Kerry Cahill

regional premiere

November 2 – 20, 2016

Loyola University – Lower Depths Theatre

 

         Kerry Cahill stars as an Air Force pilot whose career is ended due to her unplanned pregnancy. A position in the “Chair Force” piloting a drone puts the war just a one-hour commute from her husband and daughter in the Nevada suburbs. From George Brant, whose work the Sun Chronicle calls “stunning and haunting,” GROUNDED is a one-woman journey into the heart of darkness where the vast deserts of Iraq and the USA are separated only by a 1.2 second delay.

 

• SWEET BIRD OF YOUTH

By Tennessee Williams

Directed by Mel. Cook

Featuring Leslie Castay

presented in partnership with the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival

March 21 – April 15, 2017

Loyola University – Marquette Theatre

 

         Southern Rep continues its commitment to the Tennessee Williams canon with SWEET BIRD OF YOUTH, in which the only thing more dangerous than obsessing over the past is striving to repeat it. Leslie Castay stars as Alexandra del Lago, a silver screen legend on the run following a humiliating comeback. She wakes up, disoriented and hungover, in a grand hotel hidden away along the Gulf Coast with Chance—local boy-turned-actor-turned-gigolo who is plotting a comeback of his own.

 

• FATHER COMES HOME FROM THE WARS (PARTS 1, 2, & 3)

By Suzan-Lori Parks

Directed by Valerie Curtis-Newton

regional premiere

May 31 – June 18, 2017

Loyola University – Marquette Theatre

 

         West Texas, 1863. Hero is promised his freedom from slavery in exchange for his service in the Civil War—on the Confederate side. He leaves behind his community, his father, and the woman he loves for what is likely an empty promise. What Hero finds on the front lines might make it impossible for him to return home the same man. New York Magazine declares Pulitzer Prize-winner Suzan-Lori Parks’ FATHER COMES HOME FROM THE WARS (PARTS 1, 2, & 3) A “masterpiece.”

 

*****

 

         As Loyola University New Orleans Department of Theatre Arts and Dance enters a Golden Age under exciting new leadership, the department announces its 2016-2017 theatre season.  All performances are part of the university’s acclaimed Montage Fine and Performing Arts series, which this year celebrates “the Creative American Spirit.”

         “This theatre season ushers in a series of exciting plays by American writers, which we are proud to produce at Loyola University New Orleans. They highlight the creativity and spirit of American theatre artists,” said Dr. Hope. “Loyola students will perform a play by Eugene O’Neill, one of the nation’s foremost playwrights; a new play that explores issues affecting free women of color in New Orleans; and a play involving the formerly incarcerated as they are released from prison and struggle to rebuild their lives.”

         Hope took the helm of Loyola’s theatre department with plans of creating new community-engaged programs for Loyola students, engaging with local and regional theatre organizations, and encouraging long-time and new audience members to attend and support Loyola. Already, she has forged an important partnership with Southern Rep Theatre, engaged a fellow director from The NOLA Project, and selected a series of plays that reflect issues of social and racial justice, so central to the mission at Loyola New Orleans, the oldest Jesuit university in the South.

         To kick off the yearlong celebration of “the Creative American Spirit,” Hope immediately looked to acclaimed American playwright Eugene O’Neill. Next month, Loyola will perform the playwright’s first Pulitzer Prize-winning drama,  ‘Beyond the Horizon,’ under the direction of award-wining director Mark Routhier, a company member of The NOLA Project, and veteran of the National New-Plays Network.

         Of special interest to local audiences will be Loyola’s performance of “The House That Will Not Stand,” adapted by the highly-regarded young poet and playwright, Marcus Gardley. The play is an adaptation of the classic women’s drama, “The House of Bernarda Alba” by Spanish playwright Federico Garcia Lorca, reset in New Orleans in 1813 among free women of color dealing with the repercussions of the Louisiana Purchase.

         Dr. Hope will direct the production, and said “I fell in love with the script the moment I read it. I knew I wanted our students to have the privilege of being the first in the region to produce this play and to engage with the compelling work of Mr. Gardley, a rising star in American theatre. Through art, we connect with our emotions, explore the human condition, and develop empathy. As our nation grapples with racial and social justice issues, and the city approaches its Tricentennial, Loyola’s performance of “The House That Will Not Stand” allows a close and personal look at our own city’s cultural and social history.

         “This play, which historically explores themes of repression, passion, and conformity, as well as power dynamics between races and the sexes, is especially poignant and compelling in the unique and personal setting of New Orleans Creole society in the 1800s,” Hope said.

         Loyola’s spring performance of “The Spitfire Grill” casts light on social justice issues —and spotlights the university’s newly-minted Musical Theatre degree.

         “The music in this production is uniquely influenced by American folk music and is absolutely beautiful. It is a musical about hope, grace, and the importance of redemption,” Hope said.

         Big-Easy award-wining Loyola professor C. Patrick Gendusa will direct the spring production of “The Spitfire Grill.”

         Performance details include:

 

• Beyond the Horizon by Nobel-Prize winning American playwright Eugene O'Neill. Directed by guest artist Mark Routhier, member of The NOLA Project.

When:   

Friday, October 14, 2016 at 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, October 15, 2016 at 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, October 16, 2016 at 2:00 p.m.

Thursday, October 20, 2016 at 7:30 p.m.

Friday, October 21, 2016 at 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, October 22, 2016 at 7:30 p.m.

 

Where: Lower Depths Theatre

Details: Beyond the Horizon was Nobel-prize winning playwright Eugene O’Neill’s first full-length play, for which he won the first of his four Pulitzer prizes. Set on a farm in Massachusetts at the beginning of the twentieth century, this riveting drama pits brother against brother for the heart of one woman. It is a powerful, timeless work by America’s greatest playwright, and the father of contemporary American playwriting.

Ticketing: $12 Admission, $8 w/Student ID, Seniors, Loyola Faculty/Staff

 

 

• The House That Will Not Stand by Marcus Gardley, Directed by Dr. Laura Hope

When:   

Friday, November 11, 2016 at 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, November 12, 2016 at 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, November 13, 2016 at 2:00 p.m.

Thursday, November 17, 2016 at 7:30 p.m.

Friday, November 18, 2016 at 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, November 19, 2016 at 7:30 p.m.

 

Where: Marquette Theatre

Details: Inspired by Lorca’s classic “The House of Bernarda Alba,” poet and playwright Marcus Gardley sets his adaptation in New Orleans in 1813. Following an era of French colonial rule and relative racial acceptance, Louisiana's 'free people of color' are prospering. When matriarch Beatrice's lover mysteriously dies, Beatrice imposes a six-month period of mourning on herself and her three daughters. But, as the summer heat intensifies, the foundations of freedom she has built for herself and their three unwed daughters begin to crumble. Society is changing, racial divides are growing and, as the members of the household turn on each other in their fight for survival, it could cost them everything.

Ticketing: $12 Admission, $8 w/Student ID, Seniors, Loyola Faculty/Staff

 

 

• The Spitfire Grill, music and book by James Valq; lyrics and book by Fred Alley; based on the film by the same name by Lee David Zlotoff. Directed by C. Patrick Gendusa.

When:

Friday, March 24, 2017 at 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, March 25, 2017 at 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, March 26, 2017 at 2:00 p.m.

Thursday, March 30, 2017 at 7:30 p.m.

Friday, March 31, 2017 at 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, April 1, 2017 at 7:30 p.m.

 

Where: Lower Depths Theatre

Details: Winner of the Richard Rodgers Production Award, administered by The American Academy of Arts and Letters, this musical depicts the journey of a young woman just released from prison who decides to start her life anew in a rural Wisconsin town. In The New York Times, Ben Brantley wrote that “the songs are shiny with tunefulness, hope, and all-American inflections of country and folk.” Also in The New York Times, Alvin Klein declared the show “a soul-satisfying new musical. The Spitfire Grill is a complete work of theatrical resourcefulness. A compelling story that flows with grace and carries the rush of anticipation. The warm, indigenous American folk sound of Mr. Valcq’s score is, harmonically and melodically, as theatrical as it is grass roots. Mr. Alley’s lyrics accomplish the considerable feat of poetically offering inspiration while holding the syrup. The musical is freeing. It is penetrated by honesty and it glows.”

 

Ticketing: $12 general admission, $8 with student ID, seniors, and Loyola faculty and staff

 

         For more information

 

 

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