Archives 1997-98

Ode to a Bayou: The Graduate Student Performance Hour

September 9

In Ode to a Bayou, the Black Box launched a new series of performances, focusing on southern culture(s) and conceived in tribute to Mary Frances HopKins and her expertise in southern literature. The evening included performances about fugitive slave culture in Louisiana; an account by one William Mumford, a New Orleans confederate; a duet performance of Having It Yall by Ann Barrett Batson; and New Orleans Grits: A Improvisational View of New Orleans Culture.

The Search for Water

By Marcus L. Brown
September 23

Browns audience-interactive performance was comprised of two stories with an analogous theme. The first concerned the establishment of a fugitive slave community on secluded land in Louisiana. The second told of a space probe that lost and then later reestablished contact with earths mission control. Operating as an independent entity, the probe sought an equitable relationship with humans and, by means of digital imagery, it enabled their virtual travel to otherwise inaccessible points in the universe. Brown told the stories by dividing each text into ten parts; projecting each part and story separately; and then with music and visual images. In response to questions of clarity, believability, entertainment value, and concepts of community, the audience tracked their responses to the stories on paper and, afterwards, discussed them and the project as a whole.

Within the Realm

Written & directed by Darren Goins
October 1-5

Within the Realm explored the lives of twelve characters who confront different types of intolerance such as racism, sexism, and homophobia. The characters shared their experiences through a collage of monologues and dialogues. Thereby, the distinct storylines and the drama of characters experiencing and recounting situations of intolerance were interwoven into a richly textured view of the main theme.


By Dennis Potter * Adapted & directed by Ruth Laurion Bowman
October 22-25 & 28-29

In Potters meta-detective novel, characters from the fashion, publishing, and legal systems compete to discover and own the story of Blackeyes, a fashion model who drowns mysteriously. By tracking Potters multiple time shifts, narrators, and their versions of the story, Bowman encouraged the audience to both participate in and interrogate the politics of detection. Other aspects of Potters work (particularly in his video adaptations) that Bowman highlighted was his use of popular music from the 1930s-1950s, his kitschy song and dance numbers, surreal dream sequences, and lurid humor.

Undergraduate Performance Hour | November 11
2040 Performance Hour | December 2

A two part showcase of the exceptional work created by our undergraduate students in the fall semester courses. Of particular note was Michael Shoemakers performance of Small Frogs, Killed on the Highway by James Wright.

Back From Below Ground Zero

Written & performed by Darren Goins
January 27-28

In his autoperformance, Goins enacted more than a dozen characters to recount his experiences with bipolar disorder. Compiled from interviews with family members and physicians, medical research and records, and his own journal accounts, Goinss performance offered a hopeful message of recovering self through the aid and support of others.

Faculty & Graduate Student Performance Hour: A Gallery Performance

February 3

Twelve installations, a snack bar, and benches for rest comprised the gallery we developed for the touring audience. Since many of the installations included live action and acoustic as well as visual elements, hushed contemplation indicative of A Museum was out of the question. Rather (and unfortunately we thought), the event took on the quality of multiple barkers in a carnival midway. Noisy . . . to no end?

Civil War New Orleans: Voices Past and Present

Adapted & performed by Web Drake
February 10 & 11

Drakes history of New Orleans during the Civil War prompted the audience to make their own history from the patchwork of divergent views he offered. Enacting characters that represented both historical individuals and composites, Drake voiced the views of the Union occupiers; the civic, business, and religious communities; the gamblers and freedmen; and those of outsiders, such as Jefferson Davis and Reverdy Johnson, a representative from D.C. sent to investigate the apparent tumult in New Orleans.

Girl, Interrupted

By Susanna Kaysen * Adapted & directed by Jacque Burleson
March 11-14

In her treatment of Kaysens account of her psychiatric hospitalization, Burleson explored the fragile line between sanity, insanity, and performance. Burleson highlighted her interest by having her cast shift frequently between realistic and more figurative depictions of their characters; by using group movement to create the interior lives of the various characters; and by leaving the upstage doors to the Black Box open throughout the performance. In the latter case, the current of everyday life marked both its association and dissociation from the theatrical and psychic realities created on stage through performance.

Kathy Randels: How to be a Man in the 21st Century

Written & performed by Kathy Randels
New Orleans based performance artist & educator
March 18

Three separate pieces comprised Randelss performance. In "Infinity" (a modern faerie tale), Randels integrated motifs from Little Red Riding Hood and Hansel and Gretel to express a womans struggle to form an identity apart from those of the men in her life. Integrating motifs from Little Red Riding Hood and Hansel and Gretel, Randels expressed a womans struggle to form an identity apart from the men in her life. In The Object of Desire, Randels collaborated with jazz bassist, James Singleton, to depict a woman who imagines a torrid affair with a musician in a nightclub. Untitled 98 was a work in progress based on Randelss travels to former Yugoslavia in the summer of 1997. Randelss performance was co-sponsored by the Performance Studies area in the Department of Communication Studies, the Department of Theatre, and the LSU Womens Center.

Mutts: A Canine Musical

Adapted & directed by Joni Butcher
April 22-25

Modeled on the musical Cats, Butchers canine version followed a motley pack of mutts on their day to day rounds. Butcher developed the script by adapting stories, anecdotes, and songs about dogs (such as Elvis Presleys Dog Pound Rock) to the canine characters and relationships she invented. An ardent cat love, Butcher thought a good-humored look at the other side of the story was warranted . . . and it certainly was. Although it is also worth noting that Butcher included an alley cat in her tale, Peaches, who tagged along after the pack struggling to understand their behavior.

"those words in their hearts will not let them rest . . .":
the fiction of Carson McCullers

Adapted & performed by Patricia A. Suchy
April 28-29

In a fully staged reading of excerpts from McCullerss fiction, Suchy explored how the lyrical voice functions in the character-narrators McCullers writes. While each expresses an individual pathos that is tough and critical, their toughness of sentiment is ironic implying, in McCullerss view, the spiritual loneliness that arises from an impassioned individualism. In addition to a passage of narrative commentary from The Ballad of the Sad Cafe, Suchy performed excerpts from the narratives of John Singer and Mick Kelly in The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, and Berenice in The Member of the Wedding.

2040 Performance Hour

May 5

Our season closes with a rousing evening of solo performances by students in the introductory course.