NORPA Launch 2015

NORPA Launch 2015Don’t we all love beginnings? The beginning of the new year heralds many opportunities; chances to rejigger, ‘re-combobulate’ and renew vows of not wasting a moment of the year ahead. 

An ethos shared in a theatrical sense with the ‘Welcome to 2015’ NORPA launch on Friday 6 February.  Gathering hordes in the overflowing Lismore City Hall (habitat of Northern Rivers Performing Arts) were not disappointed to hear (first hand) what’s on the menu this year, in all things theatrical and beyond.

I love being a local. I’m rural. I’m a little bit country, I’m a little bit.... ah, you get the gist.

And so is NORPA! Formed in 1993, NORPA is a leading performing arts organisation, boasting proudly (and many times proven) “our original works connect us to our community – they are created with the imagination and spirit of our community in mind. And they are well received. Our home-grown shows are performed before large, sell-out crowds...NORPA is part of the conversation defining contemporary Australian performing arts and storytelling. It is proof that small towns have big scope for creativity.”

Creativity is what keeps the pulse of a community throbbing. When all stations are banging on about economic growth and the demise of the environment, now, more than ever, creativity is a form of mental and spiritual salvation. 

NORPA’s Generator programme has been a mammoth achievement; a collaborative approach across a plethora of art forms, bringing vibrant, confronting, heartfelt and often shocking realities to the wider audience. Generator is a breath of fresh air, creating “thought-provoking, adventurous theatre that amplifies marginalised voices and shines a light on contemporary social issues...” And the good news is, this year we can look forward to the return of Railway Wonderland (for those who missed out on the limited season last performance) from 22 October to 7 November, at the Lismore Train Station (AWESOME and an experience not to be missed).

Julian Louis, Artistic Director (and passionate about all that he undertakes) shares his view, “Theatre is highly collaborative and is shared in the moment. We are witnesses to it in real time. It’s not online and you can’t catch it later on-demand. Theatre is a shared experience and when it resonates, we stumble in to the night a little changed, a little more alive, illuminated.”

At the launch we were given a taste-plate of shows to come, with live performances, thank-you’s to sponsors, volunteers, and all who participate in keeping NORPA afloat, erect and on-cue. Julian Louis was thanked for continuing the “core values, brave, playful, honest, compassionate and all-inclusive” regional uniqueness for stories. Uncle Roy and his three proteges impressed the crowd with their traditional ‘Welcome to Country‘ and my sister, home for a short visit from Zurich, wiped an emotive tear from her eye, as I did (we are sisters, after all). If this small portion of overwhelming indigenous salutation could unravel us, imagine what the crowd will be like when Bangarra Dance Theatre perform Kinship later on in the year (17 and 18 November)!

Gorgeous Michael Tuahine arrived on stage (wow) a little breathless (direct from Brisbane, where he ‘forgot’ we were an hour in front, ha ha ha) and left the audience breathless after singing a few excerpts from Country Song, Michael’s original concept, written by Reg Cribb, in celebration of “the life and music of Jimmy Little and his contemporaries.” A Queensland Theatre Company performance, with Michael Tuahine as Jimmy Little; I can’t wait to see that show in August (13, 14 and 15 August). 

CIRCA performed a one-Cat routine with amazing grace, strength, daring (blind-folded, no less) above-and-Beyond any human endurance test fathomable. Beyond, a CIRCA show, will be performing 27 and 28 March: a world-class contemporary circus at our front door step, melding dynamic circus acts, trapeze, Chinese pole, show tunes, ballads, electronica and seven artists skillfully mesmerising the audience with the ‘aarrgghhh’ factor!

So what else is on for 2015 at NORPA? Cabaret Diva, with Christa Hughes and Bethan Ellsmore, 8 and 9 May; Australia Day with Hit Productions, 23 and 24 June; The 26-Storey Treehouse, adapted from the popular book by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton (“Monty Python for kids”) A CDP Production, 17 July; Hamlet with Bell Shakespeare, 29 and 31 August; Cockfight with The Farm and NORPA, 17 – 19 September; plus the shows listed above being Railway Wonderland, Kinship, Circa and Country Song.  Check out NORPA’s website for more information and get involved in your local theatre!

As Julian Louis so aptly coined, “We welcome you to be in the moment with us and celebrate the power of theatre....”


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