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March 4, 2021

NORPA: Wild Dogs of Theatre

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A Prudent Man is part of NORPA's 2018 seaason.
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Last week NORPA launched their exciting new program for 2018 with artistic director Julian Louis, now in his 11th year, calling the regional theatre company the Wild dog of Australian Theatre.

‘I think that regionally there is a sense we have to operate in a different kind of way because we are funded project to project. We have been this hungry dog on the fringes of the mainstream and we like existing there. It allows us to take risks and to make adventurous work.

We are arguably the best regional performing arts group in Australia.

There’s no argument there. Kicked off by Opera Australia’s Lyndon Terracini with open-air shows such as The Cars That Ate Paris, NORPA has bought edgy contemporary works to the region while at the same time creating site-specific original pieces that speak to stories and place specific to the region.

Making new work is a passion for Julian Louis.

‘I think it’s vital to be making work. I guess it’s about character and telling the human story and also the site-specific works and about going to those locations and how those locations hold nostalgia.’

Works to date have been held at the Lismore Train Station, Dream Land was in Eureka at the hall, Open House was a circus show in a house in North Lismore and the Home Project was staged in and around the Winsome Hotel. The 2018 boasts some exciting new works such as Wild Skin, an all-female bush thriller.

‘It’s our take on a road narrative of a woman who goes into a darker part of the northern rivers to try to find someone who is missing. We are taking the genre of the road story, which often sees the woman as a victim and subverting the whole genre,’ says Louis.

Many of these pieces feature movement and dance, reflecting Louis’s background in physical theatre. ‘My works are often quite emotive and not cerebral,’ he says.

‘I think the northern rivers has grown its appetite for adventurous theatre and for home-grown works. Along with juggling the mix of home-grown projects, and associate artists, I am always looking to source works to speak to our region in direct ways.’

One of the pieces Louis is excited about is Peepshow by Brisbane-based company Circa. ‘It’s their premiere. They are bringing it here before it does its national tour.’

Other pieces for 2018 include Paul Capsis in his award-winning portrayal of Quentin Crisp in Resident Alien; and Catherine McClements in The Events, a Belvoir, Malthouse Theatre and SA State Theatre Company co-production that will feature a local choir.

For young people and families there’s the 78-Storey Treehouse, the newest, biggest blockbuster in the Treehouse series; 360 ALLSTARS created by local multi-instrumentalist Gene Peterson featuring world champion BMX riders, breakdancers and freestyle basketballers in a radical urban circus; two inventive and hilarious re-imaginings of classic fairy tales with Red Racing Hood and Big Bad Wolf.

A new initiative is the studio theatre, where audiences can get up close and personal with shows such as A Prudent Man and Misconceived.

Go online to check out the new season.

While you are there make sure you check out Djurra, NORPA’s new dance theatre work inspired by a Bundjalung cartoon story, 29 Nov till 2 Dec at 7.30pm.


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