With hotbeds of musical talent new and old waiting to be explored in every city, it’s easy to forget that the South has some of the top theater companies in the country, with frequent world premieres of new works.
From Greensboro, North Carolina, home of Triad Stage, which has been hailed as one of the top new theaters in the nation, down to Sarasota, Florida, where Asolo Repertory Theater is one of the few theater companies in the country that rotates multiple repertory shows on one stage, Southern theater companies are some of the most impressive in the country.
And if you’re looking to provide your group with an experience they can’t get anywhere else in addition to a great show, companies like the Southern Rep in New Orleans, which showcases local talent from up-and-coming new playwrights in addition to classic works like those of bastion Tennessee Williams, will clue you in to the best of new Southern theater.
In Cajun, “lagniappe” (pronounced “lan-yap,”) means a little something extra, and New Orleans’ Southern Rep holds this concept of hospitality near and dear. While most professional theaters associated with the Actors’ Equity Association run fall to spring, Southern Rep is unique in the country as a year-round repertory theater because it’s always looking to take the visitor experience above and beyond.
“We add additional performances and productions; a writers series; our Six by Six program for emerging playwrights, which has them come together monthly and write one-act plays that we stage; and a new play festival to the usual repertory theater schedule,” said education director Laura Friedmann. “We’re committed not only to presenting interesting classic theater but to getting new plays and local work on stage as well.”
The 2015-2016 season will mark the theater’s 30th anniversary. Though the lineup has not yet been announced, you should be on the lookout for even more lagniappe than usual. The focus is on love in its many forms, and the season will showcase several world and regional premieres, a Christmas production and a Tennessee Williams play in the spring to coincide with the festival in his memory.
Groups can take advantage of a wide range of scheduled preshow talks from subject matter experts that expand on the themes explored in productions, as well as private post-show meet-and-greets with cast and crew.