NORPA, the region’s theatre company based in Lismore, have wrapped up one of the most popular years in their 21-year history with sell-out shows of Circus Oz last week. In further good news for the company Arts NSW have approved annual funding for NORPA’s 2015 artistic program.
Thomas George, Member for Lismore said “Arts NSW funding will be instrumental in assisting NORPA to develop Lismore City Hall into an arts and cultural hub. NORPA will create new and innovative theatre works that are engaging and relevant to regional audiences; provide opportunities for arts participation for local and national artists, and regional communities through workshops; undertake events and engagement activities; and produce cultural events and activities with leading national and international artists and companies.”
Over 7500 patrons came to NORPA shows in 2014 with a third of performances selling out. The most popular shows were The 13-Storey Treehouse, directed by NORPA’s Artistic Director Julian Louis, George Orwell’s 1984 by Brisbane’s Shake & Stir company and season closer Circus Oz with their new show But Wait …There’s More.
NORPA Generator also presented its home-grown work My Radio Heart created in collaboration with Sydney based company Urban Theatre Projects, featuring local mixed abilities sound ensemble Tralala Blip. My Radio Heart was also performed in Sydney this year and there is hot interest in a return Sydney season and European festival tour in 2015.
The creative engine that is NORPA Generator powered on all cylinders this year with three exciting new projects in development – Dreamer, Bundjalung Nghari and Cockfight. Dreamer explores the stories of people who live off the grid or return home to eek out an alternate lifestyle. Bundjalung Nghari draws together a unique multi-disciplinary team of artists to develop a contemporary dance theatre work over a three-year period inspired by Bundjalung country and stories. Cockfight (of which audiences got a tantalizing taste at the season launch event this year) brings together the theatrical brilliance of physical theatre mavericks The Farm with NORPA director Julian Louis and sound artist Luke Smiles.
“NORPA Generator aims to create theatre that is relevant, and entertaining. Devising theatre in community allows local issues or stories to be explored in a highly creative and collaborative way. We aim to engage this community both in the making of the work, and in its presentation,” says NORPA Artistic Director Julian Louis.
This year also saw the consolidation of NORPA’s hugely successful Theatre for Schools program that gave 2,500 primary and high school students from the Northern Rivers region (and beyond!) access to world-class quality theatrical experiences via performances, workshops, questions & answer sessions with cast and backstage tours. Highlights for primary school students included an inspiring puppet making workshop at Macadamia Castle with the cast of Wulamanayuwi and the Seven Pamanui and book signings with author Andy Griffiths as part of the presentation of The 13-Storey Treehouse. Highlights for high school students included workshops with Bell Shakespeare company and a backstage tour. NORPA’s partnership with Southern Cross University gave 34 local high school students free access to performances of 1984 and Henry V, many of whom had never attended a theatre performance previously.
The renovated Lismore City Hall provided NORPA audiences with a great new space with vastly improved access, amenities, sound, lighting and seating. Patrons embraced the ‘complete night out’ experience with the pre-show diner, bar and music proving very popular. The local community also embraced the opportunity to get involved with workshops, masterclasses and lively post-show Q&A sessions with cast and directors. Highlights included a masterclass with choreographer Kate Champion and an uplifting ‘Taiko is For Everyone’ drumming workshop with TaikOz.
Although NORPA’s Artistic Director Julian Louis is keeping tight lipped about NORPA’s 2015 Season he says “Next year at NORPA will be a thrilling one – alongside iconic Australian companies of international acclaim we will be presenting the best of our homegrown theatre.”
NORPA’s 2015 season will be unveiled with a typically theatrical, fun and free launch event at Lismore City Hall on Friday Feb 7. Keep in the loop via NORPA’s e-news, website & Facebook www.norpa.org.au
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