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Community, Cultural

Spotlight: SLT presents The Lonesome West

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Shreveport Little Theatre

Kermit Poling speaks with director Robert Alford and actor James Palmer about Shreveport Little Theatre's lagniappe production of Martin McDonagh's The Lonesome West, January 7-9.

As part of its 100th Season, Shreveport Little Theatre will present the acclaimed play The Lonesome West by Martin McDonagh, with professional guest artist James Palmer playing one of the leading roles, Coleman. Mr. Palmer will also present a free workshop on the creative process. There will also be an after-show symposium involving the director, cast, and crew discussing the artistic development of the play and the issues it raises. The Lonesome West wrestles with key issues such as family dynamics, bleak secrets, wealth, faith, and the social role of women.

About the play and the playwright: Set in Leenane, Ireland, The Lonesome West is a brutally funny play about two perpetually feuding brothers. Valene and Coleman, two brothers living alone in their father’s house after his recent death, find it impossible to exist without the most massive and violent disputes over the most mundane and innocent of topics. Their only connection to the outside world is Girleen, a lovestruck young purveyor of bootleg liquor and Father Welsh, the local young priest, who tries to reconcile the two before their petty squabbling spirals into chaos.

The Lonesome West is part of Mr. McDonagh’s Connemara trilogy, which includes The Beauty Queen of Leenane and A Skull in Connemara. Mr. McDonagh’s other plays include The Cripple of Inishmaan, The Lieutenant of Inishmore, and The Pillowman. Mr. McDonagh also wrote and directed the feature films Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri, Seven Psychopaths, In Bruges and the upcoming The Banshees of Inisherin.

The Lonesome West has Mature Themes, Scenes of Violence and Pervasive Strong Language

The cast includes James Harlon Palmer, Chris Alan Evans, Josh Hires, and Morgan Goldsberry. The creative team includes choreographer Laura Beeman Nugent, stage manager Melissa Phillips, cultural consultant and dramaturg Brian O'Nuanain, dialect coach Brinn McDonald, lighting designer Julie Edwards, costume designer Peggy San Pedro, set designer Derek Shiplov, special properties designer Allison-Rebekah Miller, assistant stage manager Louise Linh Tran, sound board operator Kari Kennon, and director Robert Alford II.

Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at SLT’s box office at (318) 424-4439 or at 812 Margaret Place from noon until 4 p.m. weekdays or online at https://www.showtix4u.com/events/18820

Supported by a grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, in cooperation with the Louisiana State Arts Council, as administered by the Shreveport Regional Arts Council. Funding has also been provided by the National Endowment of the Arts.

Supported by a grant from the Shreveport Regional Arts Council, with funds from the City of Shreveport.

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BIOS:

James Harlon Palmer (Coleman) is a graduate of Northwestern State University with a B.A. in theatre and music. He is the creator of Big Willie Style, combining Shakespeare with Hip Hop. His other stage credits include Glengarry Glen Ross and Family Planning at SLT along with Clybourne Park, Inherit the Wind, Oleanna, Family Planning, I’m Not Rappaport, The Clean House, Bulrusher and Medea for LSU Shreveport and Major Barbara, The Glass Menagerie, How I Learned to Drive, Five Guys Named Moe, Macbeth, Twelfth Night, Oklahoma, Annie Get Your Gun and Kismet at NSU. James’ movie credits include Daddy’s Home, Walkaway Joe, Purgatory Road, Because of Grácia, The Chaperone, Open Gate and The Open Road. He played a leading role in the KoldCast TV series Infamous for which he composed the theme music. James directed, produced, scripted, composed and starred in the 2019 Louisiana Film Prize winning musical short film Anniversary.

Chris Alan Evans (Valene) is a career broadcaster who began working on Shreveport radio in 2000. Best known to country music listeners as Kiss Country 93.7's "Kissin' Bandit", he was also Program Director for the station as well as Sports Director for KWKH-AM, 1130 The Tiger. A graduate of Northwestern State University, he now operates his own voice-over business while pursuing his producing and acting passions in the film and television industry. He made his short-film debut as a writer/director in 2018's Louisiana Film Prize selection Sad Man's Club. Currently, you can see him in the Prime Video feature films Fearless Faith and La Flamme Rouge. Performing in community theater since 2012, Chris first took the SLT stage in 2018's Glengarry Glen Ross and has since had roles in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Becky's New Car and Inherit the Wind.

Josh Hires (Father Welsh) is a stage, film, and voice actor with a background in music performance (trumpet) and fitness training. His first stage production was Mamma Mia! at SLT under the direction of Laura Beeman Nugent and Adam Philley. His other credits at SLT include The Foreigner and White Christmas. “Thanks to the countless people in the community who have supported me and helped me grow as an artist and person, following a challenging year.”

Morgan Goldsberry (Girleen) recently finished her Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Arts at Furman University. While at Furman, Morgan appeared in The Wolves, The Servant of Two Masters, Anon(ymous), Love and Information, No More Monsters Here, Pippin, and John Proctor is the Villain. She trained through the university's program on the technical side as a scenic designer, properties designer, production stage manager, front of house management and publicity. During her final year at Furman, Morgan served as an Acting 101 teaching assistant and will be moving to Florida this month to be a part of the Disney cast. Morgan would like to thank her family at Shreveport Little Theatre for this opportunity to tell such a wonderful story.

Melissa Philipps (Stage Manager) has been performing in the Shreveport area for the past decade. Some of her performances include Gilligan’s Island, Nunsense, Hello, Dolly!, and Into the Woods. Melissa served as a stage manager for The Foreigner at SLT; White Christmas was her first time performing at SLT. She’s proud to be a part of a community that supports the local arts.

Brian O’Nuanain (Cultural Consultant/Dramaturg) directed a production of The Beauty Queen of Leenane, a companion piece to The Lonesome West, in Dubai. He is currently working with the Louisiana National Guard Youth Challenge Program in Ruston, Louisiana. A Cork, Ireland native, he gave commentary on current issues on the What Was I Thinking program on Red River Radio for several years. He has lived and taught in France, England, Zimbabwe and the United Arab Emirates. His acting and directing highlights include Philadelphia Here I Come, and One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest as well as The Beauty Queen of Leenane. He is passionate about science and maths. Married to the adorable Brenda, they have one daughter, Aine, who's studying science at LSU.

Brinn McDonald (Dialect Coach) is a voice, speech, and dialect coach based primarily in New York City. She is originally from New Orleans, Louisiana, and attended Caddo Magnet High in Shreveport. Upon graduation, Brinn attended The American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York and graduated from the conservatory top of her class, trained in Meisner technique, Uta Hagen, the IPA, Linklater voicework, Fitzmaurice voicework, and her personal favorite technique, Knight Thompson Speechwork (among other methods). During her conservatory training at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts, she fell in love with the art of Voice & Speech and the vulnerability work that came with it. Since her time at the Academy, she’s freelanced coaching actors and other individuals, as well as production casts in voice, speech, and dialect work. Brinn was recently offered a position within the Voice Production & Speech faculty at The American Musical and Dramatic Academy, otherwise known as AMDA, and she will be returning to New York in 2022 to join their staff. She is very excited for this opportunity and will continue to act and take on individual coaching clients as well while she teaches.

M. Derek Shiplov (Set Designer and Technical Director) has served as the set designer and technical director for over 100 productions at Shreveport Little Theatre. Derek has stated that “My job is to make a performance playground.” He is grateful for the assistance of volunteers in building sets for each production, especially Alan Mathison and Neil McNelis.

Julie Edwards, M.A., NBCC, NPPA, (Lighting Designer) has been designing lights for the stage since 1984. She has a master’s degree from Northeast Louisiana University. She has been the lighting designer for Marjorie Lyons Playhouse, East Bank Theatre, Performing Arts Center, Emmett Hook Center and Shreveport Little Theatre. She received the award of Excellence for Lighting at the Kennedy Center. She also is an educator at Parkway High School. She has a gorgeous daughter, Gretchen Phillips, who is following in her footsteps.

Peggy San Pedro (Costume Designer) has an associates of art degree from Bossier Parish Community College. She has been involved with Shreveport/Bossier theatre since 2008 and had served as the resident costumer for SLT since 2011. A member of the Board of Directors of Shreveport Little Theatre, she served as the treasurer. She is also an active member of the Shreveport Little Theatre Guild.

Allison-Rebekah Miller (Special Properties Design) has been in the theatre since she was 8 years old on the banks of the Amazon in Brazil and has continued her pursuit of acting in the US since moving back in 2010. Some of her favorite roles she has played are Slightly in Peter Pan, Daisy in A Texas Romance, Betty in Desire, Margo in SLT’s Bright Star, as well as Family Planning, Chicago and Thoroughly Modern Millie, also at SLT. Allison would like to thank her friends and family for their support.

Louise Linh Tran (Assistant Stage Manager) is a junior majoring in psychology at LSU Shreveport. She is interested in theatre and film, especially acting.

Kari Kennon (Sound Board Operator) is a graduate of Centenary College of Louisiana with a degree in theatre. She has taken workshops all over the country to develop personally and artistically, including The Omega Institute, Esalen, Houston Community College and The New York Film Academy. She has been an actor and sound board operator at Shreveport Little Theatre where she also started an Improvisation and Theatre Games workshop, having studied with The Groundlings and Second City. Kari wrote and directed a film entitled Charlie which was programmed at two festivals. Her second film as director, Fast Forward Style, premiered at the Louisiana Film Prize in 2019 and has been accepted to five different festivals including Silicon Valley International Film Festival, Barebones International Film and Music Festival, Houston Comedy Film Festival and Portland Comedy Film Festival. The Lonesome West cast members James Harlon Palmer and Josh Hires play roles in her third film, Hard Up. Kari is currently pursuing an MBA at Centenary College of Louisiana.

Laura Beeman Nugent (Choreographer) just recently returned to the Shreveport Little Theatre stage, after being behind the table for many years, to play her ultimate dream role as Betty in White Christmas as part of the theater’s 100th Season. Her father, Bob, introduced her to White Christmas as a young child and fueled her love for the musical. Laura began her work at SLT in 1998, making her community stage debut in Dearly Departed. Laura helped co-found the Shreveport Little Theater Academy in 2007 and has served as choreographer since its inception. In 2011, Laura began her position as Academy Administrator and director/choreographer for the Academy, eventually becoming the Academy Artistic Director in 2013. During the summers, Laura and her collaborative partner in crime and best friend, Adam Philley, head the creative team for the SLT Main Stage summer musical. She has appeared on many stages throughout the North Louisiana area playing some of her favorite characters including, but not limited to, Amy in Company, Honey in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Matron in Hairspray, Eunice in A Streetcar Named Desire, and various characters in Parallel Lives. She dedicates her performance in memory of her father and sends the greatest amount of love to her husband Clay, daughter Lorelei, and mother Carol for always supporting her crazy schedule!

Robert Alford II (Director) having degrees in theatre from LSU and the Yale School of Drama, is an associate professor at LSU Shreveport. Mr. Alford has directed Glengarry Glen Ross, Family Planning, Crowns and Fences at Shreveport Little Theatre. He has directed Inherit the Wind, A Raisin in the Sun, Clybourne Park, A Lesson Before Dying, East Texas Hot Links, Burn This, The First Breeze of Summer, Oleanna, Bulrusher, Five Women Wearing the Same Dress, Family Planning, and Southern Girls at LSUS. A scene from The LSU Drama Club production of Doubt: A Parable, directed by Mr. Alford, was selected to be presented at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Region 6 Festival. Mr. Alford’s other productions include Summers In Suffolk at Norfolk State and Pacific Resident Theatre Ensemble, Crowns, The Colored Museum and Stick Fly at Mahogany Theatre Ensemble, The Sweet Life at Yale Rep, A Summer Romance, A Summer Memory for the Mark Taper Forum; Life During Wartime at the Burbage Theatre and A Summer Memory at the Beverly Hills Playhouse, Inner City Cultural Center and UCLA. Mr. Alford produced and directed the short film Summer Dreams in partnership with Nancy Cheryll Davis, adapted from the 4th play of Sheri Bailey’s six play cycle Summers in Suffolk. Summer Dreams premiered at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles in February 2005. He played the role of Frank in Anniversary, winner of the 2019 Louisiana Film Prize, directed, written and composed by James Harlon Palmer. A member of the Board of Directors of Shreveport Little Theatre, he served as president for 6 years.