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May 15, 2021

NORPA pushes the boundaries

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NORPA artistic director Julian Louis kicks his roller heels up with the girls from the Northern Rivers Roller Derby in a warmup before Friday night’s big 2013 season launch at Lismore Skate Rink. Photo Natsky

It was a somewhat wilder than usual season launch for Northern Rivers Performing Arts (NORPA), if that’s at all possible.

Homeless while major renovations are being carried out to the company’s home base at Lismore City Hall, the dynamic performing arts troupe got out among it at Lismore’s roller skating rink for its 20th anniversary rockabilly roller derby party.

Artistic director Julian Louis even donned a pair and skated out of his own comfort zone, subjecting himself to the rough-and-tumble of roller derby, he said it was the perfect venue in many ways for the innovative company.

‘I’d seen this space before and thought it’d be great to do something like this because roller derby is like theatre. We’re inspired by having to be out of our space,’ Mr Louis said.

‘You don’t know what’s going to happen, there’s an excitement among the audience and there a bunch of very talented performers (or athletes), so in a way it’s the right kind of fit for us because we have a history of doing things that are pretty adventurous and taking the audience to new places outside the traditional theatre.

‘We just like pushing the boundaries and making theatre accessible, so we take it to people and we also use popular art forms like live music, circus, singing and in this case, roller derby.

‘We can’t help it, we love tapping into the northern rivers subcultures.’

Though it’s a shorter than usual season, that is more than compensated for with the variety of performances scheduled for the 2013 season.

With shows based on everything from circus to Frankenstein to the Wizard of Oz, organisers expect tickets to sell quickly.

‘One of NORPA’s hallmarks is championing new, adventurous works so we’ve got a wicked re-imagining of The Wizard of Oz by Maxine Mellor and The Danger Ensemble,’ Mr Louis said.

‘We’re very lucky to be able to bring six world-class theatre shows to Lismore at a much cheaper ticket price than it would cost people to see the same shows in the big cities.

‘In the case of Taylor Mac you’d have to travel to Sydney or Darwin or New York to see him.

‘The support we get from funding bodies, sponsors and our subscribers means regional audiences don’t miss out on these experiences.

‘Our relationship with Southern Cross University also means high school students from disadvantaged backgrounds will see some of the shows for free.

‘We are very excited about getting back into the renovated Lismore City Hall with these shows. Because it’s a shorter season this year we’ve made it so you only have to buy tickets to three shows to become a NORPA subscriber and get all the discounts and goodies, like meeting the cast, that come with being a subscriber, including a chance to win a bunch of festival passes.

‘So it’s a win all round this year,’ Mr Louis said.

Tickets for all of NORPA’s 2013 shows are now on sale through www.norpa.org.au or the NORPA Box Office on: 1300 066 772.

The first show is Frankenstein on July 19 in the newly renovated Lismore City Hall.


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