Something that consistently fascinates me as a NOLA transplant in NYC is the resonant connection between the two places. I still keep up with the Times-Pic and Channel 4, but it’s always a surprise when Louisiana news comes from NY outlets. Granted, you have big dramas, like the BP oil spill, that splash across a national canvas, but sometimes it’s the smaller, more human moments that work their way through.
Playbill. com has a great piece on Ellen Stewart, the founder of La MaMa who passed away yesterday at 91. Her legacy – well, more accurately, her work, since she was still actively involved in her theatre – is something I’ve been aware of for some time. I had no idea, until I read the article, however, that she was a Louisiana native, from Alexandria. (The New York Times dissents, though, saying she was born in Chicago and spent some childhood years in Alexandria. It’s also a wonderful portrait.) I often wonder if people who really reposition their lives away from Louisiana feel the same kind of gravitational pull back there. Is it still home? Or does it become little more than a memory, a sepia photo tucked in the back of a book of more important, more valuable experiences? Either way, it’s nice to know that a significant portion of the late-20th century Off Off Broadway theatre has roots in Louisiana.
The New York Times also has some nice coverage of the new show over the Anthony Bean Community Theater, Reflections: A Man and His Time, about former New Orleans politician Oliver Thomas, his post-Katrina bribery conviction, and his subsequent prison sentence. Some of the details are muddled; for example, the poster graphic says the show is written by Oliver Thomas himself, but the article states that Anthony Bean wrote the play from Thomas’s writings and other interviews. The newsworthiness of the production, though, seems to be the conceit of the show, which is that Oliver Thomas plays himself. It’s not a far stretch, really, seeing as Thomas had acted before, particularly at ABCT, in shows like Joe Turner’s Come and Gone. Thomas hopes the play will function as a cautionary tale, and whether it’s successful in that regard obviously remains to be seen. The article attempts to draw a clear line between Thomas’s downfall and the current state of New Orleans politics, and Bean seems to be aiming for that kind of scope in the play as well. I find I’m increasingly drawn to theatre that’s grounded in a real truth, and I’m intrigued about how this one will play out.
And, finally, poking around Gothamist this morning, I came across this month-old article about the tragic case of a bicyclist from New Orleans who was critically injured in an accident in Bushwick. About a week after the Gothamist article was originally posted, the New York Times (again!) ran this considerably more positive piece about her accident and recovery.
Now, granted, an obituary, a convicted politician, and a tragic bicycle accident aren’t the cheeriest representation of home; but sometimes, it’s gratifying to look around so far away and see Louisiana everywhere.
Read Full Post »