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New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans: Theater

by Natalie Boyd, New Orleans theater blogger

Theater in New Orleans is about as distinct and eclectic as the city itself. In the years since “The Storm We Shall Not Name,” small, independent companies have popped up all over the city, and no two of them are easy to compare. Many of the companies have been created by non-locals who happened upon our fair city and took a liking to the creative energy buzzing all around the town. Goat in the Road Productions, SkinHorse Productions, Cripple Creek Theatre Company and The NOLA Project have all become serious players in the community due their imaginative use of locations around town and the material they choose to present.

In New Orleans, theater doesn’t always happen inside of a theatre: sometimes, it doesn’t even happen inside of a building. SkinHorse Productions has taken to doing smaller, more intimate shows inside of houses; their most successful production was Hedwig and the Angry Inch, which took place in a backyard shed, aptly named “The Backyard Ballroom.” The Cripple Creek kids have begun making a home inside the Marigny Theatre, which is attached to the Allways Lounge, a popular bar on Rampart Street. Even the outdoors was proven to be a lucrative space for theater this year, when the NOLA Project staged A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the New Orleans Museum of Art‘s Sculpture Garden and attracted over 2000 audience members.

Being good southerners, we do have a few more traditional theaters around town. The Jefferson Performing Arts Society(JPAS) has two theaters that seem to never be without a show performing. Since the historic Le Petit Theatre, in the French Quarter, closed down due to financial woes, JPAS has seemingly become the place to go to produce big, flashy musicals. The acclaimed Southern Repertory Theater, which celebrates its 25th anniversary season in 2011-12, has stayed strong with newly published works, a new play festival and a City Series which offers other, smaller companies use of their space during the season for even more opportunities for theater to happen.

All in all, theater in New Orleans is in a very good place. Collaboration is blooming all over town, and support for the little guys is really starting to explode. Last week I saw a show about “Acrocats”. Yep, acrobatic cats. If you can’t find something that satiates your need for imaginative theater in New Orleans, you can’t find it anywhere. I promise.

New Orleans Theater: Theater Around New Orleans

Below are our New Orleans Theater recommendations, with information on location, admission, transportation/parking, theater history and other points of interest in New Orleans Art.

Actor’s Theatre of New Orleans

(EDITOR’S NOTE: On January 16, 2012, Actor’s Theatre of New Orleans announced that it would be ceasing operations, citing a decline of audience attendance, an increase in rent, and the economy taking its toll. The theater plans on reopening at some point in the future in a new and better facility with a larger audience area and plenty of parking and restrooms. They also plan to put in a stage for children’s theatre, as well as a venue for late night comedy, cabaret acts, and a few secret surprises.) ...more...

Cripple Creek Theatre Company

A unique, socially conscious performance company, the Cripple Creek Theatre’s mantra to inspire its audiences into public action has taken on new significance in the current spirit of reconstruction sweeping New Orleans.

Choosing ambitious, large-cast productions with a diverse company of actors, Cripple Creek’s past productions have taken aim at satire of Louisiana’s political history (The Green, Gold and Purple Shuffle) and the folly of war (Bury the Dead), interspersing well …more…

Junebug Productions

Junebug Productions is the successor to the Free Southern Theater (FST), which was formed in Jackson, Mississippi in 1963 as a cultural arm of the Civil Rights Movement—”a theater for those who have no theater.” FST was a major influence in the Black Theater Movement; Junebug’s artistic director, John O’Neal, was a co-founder of the organization and a guiding force throughout its existence.

FST moved its home base to New Orleans …more…

Shakespeare Festival @ Tulane (New Orleans, LA)

Shakespeare Festival @ Tulane Information

Public Transportation: Fair (a 3-minute walk from RTA bus 15 at Freret Street/Broadway Street; and a 7-minute walk from bus 32 and the St. Charles Streetcar at Broadway Street/St. Charles Avenue)
Handicapped Accessibility: Good
Performances/Programs: 3 shows total – 2 mainstage; 1 All Things Shakespeare show, which is a training program for young actors, 14–18, interested in Shakespeare
Ticket Prices: Mainstage shows ($30); All Things Shakespeare ($13). Discounted shows …more…

Southern Repertory Theatre

New Orleans’ home for the regional debuts of such important recent works as The History Boys, Doubt, Grey Gardens, and Dying City, Southern Rep can always be counted on to provide its audiences with provocative titles and relevant world premieres. Originally founded in 1987, the company’s annual season has, in recent years, seen a shift from classics to plays of a more contemporary bent, with a new residency at the city’s infamous cabaret, Le …more…

The NOLA Project

The nonprofit NOLA Project was started in 2005 by New Orleans native Andrew Larimer during his time at the Stella Adler Studio at NYU, and has been producing theater in New Orleans ever since. Originally conceived as a means of doing a single show (Martin McDonagh’s The Cripple of Inishmaan, in August 2005) the company is now firmly entrenched on the Big Easy’s theater scene. The company strives to produce …more…