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Byron Shire
May 10, 2021

NORPA launch celebrates 20th birthday

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NORPA artistic director Julian Louis gets down and dirty with the girls from the Northern Rivers Roller Derby in a prelude to Friday’s big launch.


Photo and story Melissa Hargraves

The good times continue to roll for Northern Rivers Performing Arts (NORPA) as they launch their 2013 season of shows and celebrate 20 years of production this Friday at the Lismore Skating Rink from 5pm to 7.30pm.

Northern Rivers Roller Derby girls will show some action on the night alongside key figures from NORPA’s vibrant history, who will share their highlight moments.

Artistic director Julian Louis will present a sneak preview of the upcoming shows, which have been embargoed right up until the night.

NORPA has consciously tapped into many subcultures on the northern rivers which also include issues that have moved the community.

Mr Louis recognises the similarities with theatre and Derby, even the spills.

‘Derby is a different sort of theatre but relates very strongly. There is an electric sense of what’s going to happen next and it is very much alive. The teamwork is very important,’ he said.

‘NORPA enjoys working in different spaces and involving ourselves in the different cultures in the community.’

As artistic director Mr Louis is adventurous, a risk that has so far paid off.

‘Theatre is not always about giving audiences what they want. It is about allowing surprises and giving people experiences they may never have if we don’t offer them,’ he said.

‘There are adventurous shows in this year’s season that will show people new theatre, artists today expressing ideas about here and now in Australia, that is contemporary theatre. That is what we are really excited about and what we see as our role to bring here.’

New hall

The 2013 season kicks off on 19 July in what will be the newly renovated Lismore City Hall, which will have its official opening after this date, so it will be a great opportunity to check it out.

The upgrade includes new outdoor spaces, a refurbished bar, new seating and lighting and a new loading dock to accommodate larger productions.

NORPA’s offices will also undergo renovations as part of the hall upgrade. Disabled accessibility will be greatly improved, which includes hearing loops for the hearing impaired.

NORPA’s 2013 season has been reduced to half of their traditional programming to allow for the renovations. The time has been used wisely by the local production company.

‘One of the major focuses of NORPA is creating our own works, which are recognised nationally and internationally,’ Mr Louis said.

‘We have four works in development at the moment which will be rolled out over the next two or three years.

‘So the time has allowed us to focus on these,’ he said.

Subscribers to NORPA will be compensated handsomely for the reduced season. Marketing manager at NORPA Clare McGregor told Echonetdaily what a shorter season means for NORPA subscribers.

‘For the 2013 season, subscribers will only need to buy tickets to three shows and you get up to 15 per cent discount,’ Ms McGregor said.

‘Ticket prices for the shows are so reasonably priced anyway; these are the same shows that go into the capital cities at three times the price.

‘If you subscribe before 15 July, subscribers will automatically go into the draw to win a whole bunch of festival tickets such as the Byron Writers’ Festival, Mullum Music Festival, Byron Bay Film Festival and the Sample Food Festival.

‘Throughout the season there will be subscriber treats like meeting the cast after the shows and Q&As.’


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