"I think it's a very big deal for any local play to receive national attention," says Cody Daigle, new artistic director for CitÃ© Des Arts. "It makes a very clear point that good work is being done here, and that local audiences should take note. While our two plays have been created in very different ways, address very different ideas, and have been developed in two very different theatre environments, they're both bringing Lafayette a little national attention."
Sustained Winds tells the stories of hurricane victims, written and performed by New Orleans and Lafayette artists from a range of disciplines. "Because it's New York City, they work to get a lot of industry people in to see the shows: producers, etc.," says Amy Waguespack of Acting Up, the company behind Sustained Winds. "Mostly, we just want to remind people that southern Louisiana is not fully recovered."
For Daigle, the trip comes on the heels of being named CitÃ© Des Arts' new artistic director. Previously, he taught at the theatre program for the Lafayette Parish High School Arts Academy. When CitÃ© offered him the post, he was eager to give back to the venue where he has premiered seven full-length pieces. One of them was Feminine Side, which he'll revisit for his trip fundraisers. The play explores gender identities, with Daigle taking on several perspectives, including black drag queen, a Jewish grandmother, and, for the first time, a lounge singer.
Daigle got the idea for his Life/Play after seeing Suzan-Lori Parks' 365 Days/365 Plays, which featured a play written for every day of the year. Daigle adapted the play-a-day concept to his own life, turning his autobiography into an ongoing play. By blogging it online, he's giving the audience a chance to have a hand in its development. New parts will be added all the way through the New York experience.
"It's constantly evolving," says Daigle. "I find that exciting. It's a writer saying, here you go, here's my life, connect to me if you can."
Blue Moon Saloon hosts the Sustained Winds fundraiser on June 28, featuring Feufollet, Lil' Nathan & The Zydeco Big Timers and Lost Bayou Ramblers beginning at 8 p.m. CitÃ© Des Arts hosts Life/Play fundraisers at 7:30 p.m. June 29-30.