Enlightening, brilliant, fab.

— Jill Greenberg, Long Beach, California

About Louisiana Women

“Louisiana Women,” a 12-play cycle of monologues by Lake Charles playwright Carolyn Woosley about important women from several hundred years of Louisiana’s history, will have its New Orleans premiere at the New Orleans Fringe Festival from November 17 – 21, 2010 with two plays from the cycle. The Ogden Museum of Southern Art’s spectacular libraries will be the setting for productions of “Clementine” and “Clyde” – two authentic treasures of Louisiana, whose artworks are held in the permanent collection of the museum.

Prior to their New Orleans debut, six of the dozen plays of the Louisiana Women play cycle will tour to 15 Louisiana cities over 10 weekends from September 10 through November 14. The six plays will be presented by two separate companies, and both companies will perform each weekend, in separate cities. The “Louisiana Women: Originals” company, directed by Angelique Feaster, Artistic Director of the non-profit Mahogany Ensemble Theatre, which presents works by playwrights of the African diaspora (Feaster also helms the Southern Black Theatre Festival, to be held this year in various venues in and around Shreveport from September 16 – 26, 2010), will perform the roles of primitive painter and former Melrose Plantation cook Clementine Hunter, matriarch of the Cane River colony of Free People of Color Marie Thérèze Coincoin, and jazz pianist, vocalist and composer, and the first African-American board member of the American Federation of Musicians Nellie Lutcher. This production is a collaboration with the Mahogany Ensemble Theatre. The “Louisiana Women: Visionaries” company, directed by Carol Anne Gayle, curator of the Historic City Hall museum in Lake Charles, and former pupil of legendary acting teacher Sanford Meisner at New York’s Neighborhood Playhouse, will include performances of early feminist author Kate Chopin, nature and forestry preservationist, author and watercolorist Caroline Dormon, and Presbyterian Women’s leader and abstract sculptor Clyde Connell.

Each weekend from September through November, the “Originals” and “Visionaries” companies will offer multiple performances of the monologue plays to new audiences throughout the State. The “Originals” company’s schedule begins in Lockport, at the Bayou Playhouse, continuing on to Shreveport, Minden, Crowley, Lake Charles, Ruston, and other cities to be named later. The “Visionaries” company’s schedule begins in Lafayette, at Cite des Arts, continuing on to Alexandria, Crowley, Minden, Bossier City and other cities to be named later. These new productions of the “Louisiana Women” plays and the tours of the “Originals” and “Visionaries” companies will be premieres of the “Louisiana Women” plays in most cities in which the companies will perform. (Some of the “Louisiana Women” plays debuted at the Lake Charles Little Theatre in 1999, and a few of the plays were performed later for civic and charitable organizations.)

Costumes for the professional companies were created by award-winning designer Marie Anne Chiment, currently Chair of the Theatre Department at Philadelphia’s Temple University. Ms. Chiment’s costumes have been seen on and off Broadway, at Lincoln Center, and in regional theatre and opera companies’ seasons for more than thirty years, since she graduated top of her class from New York University’s graduate theatre design department. Sherri Marina, until recently Chair of the Theatre Department of Dillard University, is the choreographer and movement coach for the “Originals” company. Celebrated Louisiana photographer Philip Gould’s work frames the sets for both companies’ productions as a dramatic backdrop.

“Louisiana Women” is the work of playwright Carolyn Woosley, a graduate of Tulane‘s Newcomb College and UCLA’s Urban Studies program. Woosley is a historian, playwright, screenwriter, and former financial planner, whose artistic focus has been the history and historical figures of Louisiana. Woosley is known across the State for her volunteer work focused on coastal erosion and the environment, and she lectures and advises local and statewide volunteer and nonprofit organizations, governments and agencies on erosion and preservation issues raised in recent years and by recent events.