Chesley Heymsfield, executive director of the Louisiana International Film Festival, is proud of how quickly Beasts of the Southern Wild has “snowballed” into an internationally acclaimed indie flick. Beasts began its life as Juicy and Delicious, a bluegrass musical play “about sex and Southern food,” according to its author, Lucy Alibar. A Florida-born Georgia expatriate, Alibar met Beasts director Benh Zeitlin at a playwriting camp as a teenager. Later in life, the team would attempt to turn Juicy and Delicious into a film, and Beasts would be the end result.
“This book records the love shared by two people who lived long ago.”
So begins the inscription of Now and Always: A Louisiana Love Story, a collection of letters between Joseph Bradford Lancaster and the woman who became his wife, Amanda Doerr. The book, which was published earlier this year, will be the subject of a lecture by the text’s compiler and editor this Thursday at the Old Governor’s Mansion.
Christian Garcia is the grandson of Joseph and Amanda, and is one among many. Garcia became the caretaker of his maternal grandparents’ letters in 1980 when they were presented to him by uncle Bradford Lancaster; in order to ensure that the correspondence could “exist in a form all members of [his] family would have access to,” he began a labor of love. Now and Always is the fruit of that labor.
The Color Purple was an epistolary novel written by Alice Walker and published in 1982 and went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award for Fiction the following year. It tells the story of fourteen-year-old Celie, an African American girl who suffers under the physically and sexually abusive hand of her father. Over the course of the text, she bears her father’s second incestuous child of rape, is forced into a loveless marriage, and comes into contact with other women of similar social status, undergoing and enduring situations and events of similarly terrible magnitude.
The book was adapted into a film of the same name in 1985, starring Whoopi Goldberg, Danny Glover, and Oprah Winfrey, and directed by Steven Spielberg. It was nominated for 11 Academy Awards, but was awarded none.
20 years later, the story came to public attention one more time, when it was adapted for the stage as a musical by Marsha Norman, featuring music and lyrics by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis, and Stephen Bray. Again, The Color Purple garnered 11 nominations, this time for the Tony Awards, including Best Original Score, Best Choreography, Best Scenic Design, Best Costume Design, and four performance awards. This time, it managed a win, for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical which was awarded to Rhonda Sapp under her stage name of “LaChanze.” Continue reading “Newcomers Abound in The Color Purple: New Venture Theatre Production Boasts Local Talent”
This can be attributed, at least in part, to exposure to some incredibly mediocre stage musicals over the years. At the formative age of seventeen, I was even subjected to a double-feature of a cognitively dissonant musical version of Medea (the myth in which the wife of cheating hero Jason—of “and the Argonauts” fame—kills her children and many others because her man has a wandering lust) and something called Oedipus Rox, a “romping” production in which Oedipus (“Eddie”) kills his father and marries his mother Jocasta (“Yo-Yo”) while wearing Meatloaf’s outfit from The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
But I digress.
Four years ago, I discovered that the apartment in which I lived had bootleg cable. After two years of boarding school and two more years living in the Eversberg Shantytown on State Street (where even owning a television was difficult, as the ancient circuits in our breaker boxes could hardly handle an oscillating fan), I had no idea what television had become. But on June 28, 2008, I was enlightened; Legally Blonde – The Musical: The Search for Elle Woods premiered on MTV. It was the only show on television that featured a dozen catty women trying to sing while balancing on stationary bicycles or dance on cobblestone streets, and I could hardly turn away.
Unfortunately, the Broadway musical for which the girls were competing closed in October of that same year. But take heart, people of Baton Rouge. Gonzales’ Center Stage Performing Arts Academy will be bringing Legally Blonde—The Musical to the Manship Theatre this July.
Within days after the release of Steven Soderbergh’s latest film, Magic Mike, notes about it began appearing on social networking sites, most often a variation of the phrase “For the first time ever, women are going to see a movie about strippers (Magic Mike), and men are going to see a movie about a teddy bear (Seth McFarlane’s Ted).” Immediately following these was often another image with the shallow straw-feminist argument that in films in which female strippers have ambition they are invariably treated as “b*tches,” while male strippers were treated with a modicum of respect.
But how can Magic Mike be compared to the many movies dealing with female strippers (I Know Who Killed Me, Powder Blue, The Player’s Club, etc.), when there’s never been a mainstream American feature film focused on their male counterparts?