Last Friday night saw the launch of NORPA’s 2015 program at Lismore City Hall. Artistic director Julian Louis gave
us the heads-up on what’s in store.
What is NORPA’s vision when it comes to programming this year?
Increasing access to the performing arts is at the core of NORPA’s artistic program, embracing diversity in the region and engaging the community in relevant and dynamic ways.
Each year NORPA selects the best performing arts around the country with the region’s diverse communities in mind. We balance adventurous, contemporary work with entertaining, accessible productions. We’ve found that people in this area like to be challenged and surprised – they are up for works that are political, contemporary and deal with social issues. This region is famous for that and it’s also why touring companies want to tour here – NORPA audiences are very engaged.
NORPA also creates its own works that aim to tell our stories in adventurous ways. Cockfight and Railway Wonderland are two works in this season that have been created locally. I strongly believe that NORPA works help define contemporary Australian theatre.
Just because we are in a regional area it doesn’t mean we can’t create, and our audiences can’t have access to, some of the best performing arts this country has to offer.
I see that Railway Wonderland has made a return – why have you included this again?
When it premiered in 2012 it sold out two weeks before it opened. We have had ongoing requests for its return. Railway Wonderland is a locally made show that resonates and we are thrilled to be able to put it back on at Lismore train station for three weeks.
It’s not just a theatre show; it’s an event, an experience that people will enjoy whether they are regular theatre-goers or not.
We hope people will travel to come and see it. Like the tracks that used to link our cities and towns, the stories we tell in Railway Wonderland run a line through the history of the northern rivers and many rural communities in Australia.
While the show is not a political statement, it is a great use of an iconic heritage site that means a lot to a lot of people.
Is what we have on offer in a regional setting unique in comparison to regional places of similar demographic numbers?
NORPA’s program is quite renowned nationally for supporting new work, taking risks and having a switched-on and hungry audience who embrace new work.
Another thing that makes us different from most regional performing arts centres is that we are also a theatre company in residence.
NORPA is one of the few remaining regional theatre companies in Australia producing original work. Part of the reason we are able to continue doing this is the support and inspiration of the community in which we live.
How can the community engage with NORPA?
By coming to shows, being a subscriber, bringing friends, coming to the free Q&A sessions afterwards, getting involved in workshops, auditions and attending creative development showings, encouraging your kids’ schools to check out our Theatre for Schools program, giving us your feedback.
Having conversations about theatre and art in the foyer and keeping the cultural dialogue alive.
What benefits do NORPA subscribers get?
NORPA subscribers are all the people who choose to buy season packages of three shows or more.
Every year we find more and more people choosing to do this, which is really encouraging. Some people do it because they get a generous discount; others because they don’t want to miss out on shows and like to get organised; others because they want to support NORPA.
This year we also have some amazing prizes for people who subscribe early including tickets to the Byron Bay Writers Festival, Mullum Music Festival and a Sample Food Festival event.
All shows in NORPA’s 2015 season are now on sale. Visit www.norpa.org.au for all the details.