This season continued to feature works of fiction and non-fiction from our Southern Series.
The Black Box continued its tradition of opening each semester with a program of short performances offered by our outstanding graduate students. This hour featured a preview of Danielle Searss Chalmette: A Promised Land; Joni Butcher and Jacque Burlesons performance of Mother Said: poems by Hal Sirowitz; Darren Goinss performance of selections from Jean Anouilhs Becket; Greg Cavenaughs performance of the final scene of Flannery OConnors A Good Man is Hard to Find; performance art pieces from Becky Kennerly and Mindy Fenske; and, in one of the messiest and meatiest literally performances ever to grace our theatre, Lisa Swartzels Im Pink, Therefore Im Spam: Hormel Haiku.
Adapted & directed by Dee Monlezun
September 18 & 19
Monlezuns performance was inspired by and based upon Jean Toomers Blood-Burning Moon from his 1923 collection, Cane. In her performance, Monlezun juxtaposed Toomers lyrical prose and her full-throated rendering of the song the women in the cane field must sing to the evil moon against a dispassionate, ironic narrator: the moon herself, played by Lisa Swartzel.
Performed by Michael S. Bowman
October 9 & 10
With chilling economy, Bowman presented Percys extended monologue of narrator/anti-hero Lance Lamar, who spoke to the audience as though they were the silent Percival visiting Lamar in his cell in New Orleans. Over the course of the monologue, Lamar, a self-described disenchanted liberal lawyer, reveals the horrible incident that brought him to convalesce in a mental institution. Thereby too he contrasts his journey of dark violence with what he perceives as the degeneration of modern America.
By Edgar Allen Poe * Adapted & directed by Darren Goins
Edgar Allen Poes unfinished verse drama, Politan, was juxtaposed with journalistic accounts of the conspiracy to assassinate the Attorney General of Kentucky in 1825, the true crime story that was Poes source. Using Chamber Theatre techniques, Goins staged each event in Kentucky Triangle twice: once in Poes poetic treatment, and once in texts adapted from newspaper accounts, courtroom testimony, and the murderers confession.
Each semester, this performance hour features outstanding student performances of poetry, prose, and compiled materials. This semester, our performers included Katie Weiner and Andy Causey, who would collaborate in a forthcoming season on Sa Femme de Christ.
The Black Box continued its tradition of opening each semester with a program of short performances offered by our remarkable graduate students.
Written & performed by Danielle Sears
February 12 & 13
Sears, a native of Chalmette, the seat of St. Bernard Parish located below New Orleans, took us on a sometimes-surreal tour of her community. Sears interwove performances of ethnographies of her neighbors, family, and community figures with fragments of local legends, landmarks, jokes, and superstitions. This popular performance was reprised at the Petit Jean Performance Festival in the fall of 1999 and at the Dramarama Festival, held at the Museum of Contemporary Art in New Orleans.
Written & performed by Mindy Fenske
February 26 & 27
Fenske brought her interest in the discourses and performance ontologies of the realm of the virtual to the stage in this work, which took hypertext as its theme and method. At various points in the action, the audience chose which link Mindy would follow resulting in a labyrinthine, chance-driven narrative. Her initial personal narrative might lead to a dada poem, for instance, itself based on chance. Although primarily a solo work, Storyspace featured a cameo appearance by Jacque Burleson as the computer mouse who facilitated our navigation of Fenskes hyperlinks.
By William Faulkner
Adapted & performed by Ruth Laurion Bowman & Jacque Burleson
March 12 & 13
With not much else but a large mound of earth at stage center and a tongue-in-cheek visual aid of the McCaslin-Edmonds-Beauchamp twisted family tree, Bowman and Burleson navigated Faulkners non-linear narrative with grace and power. The novel, melded out of short stories (in which stories are often interrupted to tell other stories, which are then cross-referenced in other stories), offers an intimate family history of race relations as they play out in the nexus of land, ownership, and the natural world. Focusing on excerpts from the novel in which female roles are emphasized, the duo presented a commanding (sometimes dance-like) physical as well as verbally sophisticated balancing act in their rendering of this most challenging set of tales.
By Ralph Ellison * Adapted & directed by Patricia A. Suchy
An ensemble work in which sixteen performers alternated playing the title role, this performance, influenced by Ellisons essays on democracy, US literature, jazz, and racial politics, used experimental techniques ranging from Anne Bogarts viewpoints to Augusto Boals Image Theatre. The performance also incorporated several silent, black and white 8 mm films that the cast made together during the rehearsal process. In May, Invisible Man went on the road to Ascension Catholic High School in Donaldsonville to conduct workshops with students there who were studying Ellisons novel.
Students from the introductory course displayed their creativity and talent in a showcase of solo performances. This semesters performers included Susanne Brasset and Scott Brignac, who would grace our stage again in subsequent years.