2020 Banners Cultural Season

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poster art by Tom Galmarini




2 | 2019 Cultural Season



WELCOME! Banners at McNeese is a self-sustaining organization within the framework of the university dedicated to providing the Lake Area community with access to exceptional arts & humanities programming and education that is unique to the region. Banners programs focus on lifelong learning and an appreciation of cultural diversity, working to enhance our collective quality of life in Southwest Louisiana. Patrons and partners of Banners at McNeese helped make 2019 a record-breaking year for the organization and the long-running Cultural Series. Take a moment to recognize our valued sponsors shown at left, and support businesses who support the community! The 2019 season saw average total attendance increased by 54.6%, and single ticket sales up 258.26%, while the number of members also increased for the first time in five years! A big thank-you goes out to our patrons for your enthusiasm and continued support in helping Banners enrich the Lake Area annually with live music & arts, free film screenings & engaging lectures, and fun educational programming for the whole family. The 2020 season kicks off with Steinway recording artist and TED talk veteran Robin Spielberg, who offers her lecture on “The Healing Power of Music” on March 5, followed by a performance on March 7. Music lovers rejoice, because this series is packed with a variety of stellar musicians like blues legend Taj Mahal, the Leyla McCalla Quartet, the Flying Balalaika Brothers, Orchestre Les Mangelepa, and a brand new free outdoor concert called Pokes in the Oaks, to be held on the beautiful lawn of the historic F.G. Bulber Auditorium. Stay tuned for the lineup announcement! Theatre buffs will enjoy captivating productions like the award-winning one-woman show “Wit & Wrath: The Life & Times of Dorothy Parker”, along with “Solo from the Pit” by Elias Faingersh (visiting all the way from Sweden!), and “90 Lies an Hour” by master storyteller Paul Strickland. Looking for good, clean family fun? The 2020 series offers two great options with the music and comedy group “JunNk”, who play well-known anthems like you’ve never heard them before, and “Jeff Boyer’s Big Bubble Bonanza”, mixing comedy, music, and interactive bubble magic that the kids will love. 10 a.m. school shows for “JunNK” and the “Big Bubble Bonanza” are booking now, so, teachers, contact us at banners@mcneese.edu to reserve seats for your private, public, or homeschool students. Returning to the Banners Series in 2020 is the 33rd Annual Works on Paper art exhibit and the McLeod Lecture Series, and that’s not even all! Season memberships and single tickets are now available at BANNERS.ORG. We’ll see you in the lobby!

MEMBERSHIP DEALS AVAILABLE at banners.org Give the gift of cultural entertainment and consider donating a membership to local teachers and students!



ROBIN SPIELBERG (PERFORMANCE) 3/07/20 @ 7pm, Bulber Auditorium Robin Spielberg, a Steinway recording artist, is one of America’s most beloved pianist/composers. A prolific composer, Spielberg has 16 recordings to her credit and appears on over 40 compilations around the world. As an artist with a multifaceted and successful career, Spielberg has performed in such prestigious environments as Carnegie Hall, (three times), the Seoul Arts Center, Mao Livehouse in Shanghai, on CBS Saturday Morning, PBS, Life Time Live and NPR. Spielberg’s work has been featured on numerous soundtracks including The History Channel and the Great American Ballroom Challenge. Her performances often include lively and humorous excerpts from her award-winning memoir, “Naked on the Bench: My Adventures in Pianoland.”

“BEUYS”, CHRISTA-MARIA LERM-HAYES 3/11/20 @ 2pm, Tritico Theatre, Shearman Fine Arts Center Robin Spielberg

Christa-Maria Lerm-Hayes is

photo by Larry Kosson

an art historian and curator, currently working as Professor


of Modern and Contemporary Art History at the University of Amsterdam. Until 2014

3/5/20 @ 7pm , 1911 Historic City Hall Robin Spielberg is one of America`s most beloved pianist/composers. With an impressive tour schedule and millions of fans worldwide, this Steinway Artist has been winning the hearts of listeners around the world with her compelling melodies and sensitive piano technique since debuting her first recording of original solos for piano, Heal of the Hand. As a Celebrity Artist Spokesperson for the national American Music Therapy Association, Robin Spielberg offers engaging talks, workshops and community outreach programs on the transformative power of music on healing as featured on her TEDx Talk. Spielberg’s impact extends beyond the stage as she continues to lead focused master classes, engaging workshops and multifaceted residencies in communities across the country. 4 | 2019 Cultural Season

she worked as Professor of Iconology at the University of Ulster, Belfast. From 2007 to 2011 she was Head of the Research Graduate School there, leading particularly the PhD with Practice program. She studied at the Universities of Heidelberg, London, Bonn and Cologne, where she gained her PhD in 2000 with her research on Joseph Beuys. Joseph Beuys is one of the most influential German sculptors of the post-World War II era. His work spans the categories of sculpture, performance, drawing, and installation. Beuys’s goal was to create social sculpture: nothing less than the transformation of Western culture into a peaceful, democratic, and creative place. The lecture by Christa-Maria Lerm-Hayes will take place Wednesday, March 11, 2020 at 2 p.m. in the Tritico Theatre in Shearman Fine Arts Center. The 2017 documentary film “Beuys” will be shown at 3 p.m. following the lecture.

WIT & WRATH: THE LIFE & TIMES OF DOROTHY PARKER 3/12/20 @ 7pm , Tritico Theater Are Dorothy Parker’s self-deprecating quips, biting theater critiques, incisive social observations and poignant short stories relevant and entertaining in the 21st century? In WIT & WRATH, Claudia Baumgarten, as Mrs. Parker, skewers, with martini in hand, her fellow writers at the Round Table, the Jazz Age, her tumultuous love and sex life and the cultural desert of Hollywood. Dorothy Parker was a wit, a social observer with an acid tongue, a biting critic of the rich and complacent, a compassionate advocate for the less fortunate and a brilliant writer in many genres - poetry, short stories, book and drama reviews and film scripts. The centerpiece is the performance of THE WALTZ, a theatrical adaptation of Mrs. Parker’s hilarious yet telling first person narrative - in which she mutters to herself, confides in the audience and politely declines but finally acquiesces to dance with the man who is the bane of her evening, while accompanied by a waltz-playing violinist. WIT & WRATH is an edgy, fleshy, literary homage to Mrs. Parker, the most widely read and quoted woman of the 1920s. It offers audiences the opportunity to enjoy and appreciate the truly phenomenal, witty, and outrageous Dorothy Parker and her writings, which have stood the test of time.

LEYLA MCCALLA QUARTET 3/13/20 @ 7pm Bulber Auditorium Born in New York

Armed with Bach’s Cello Suites, Leyla left New York to play cello on the streets of the French Quarter in New Orleans. Singing in French, Haitian Creole, and English, and playing cello, tenor banjo and guitar, her move allowed her to connect more viscerally to historical Haitian Creole resilience and musical expression. She rose to fame during her two years as cellist of the Grammy awardwinning African-American string band, the Carolina Chocolate Drops, alongside bandmates Rhiannon Giddens and Dom Flemons, before leaving the group in 2013 to pursue her solo career. Deeply influenced by traditional Creole, Cajun and Haitian music, as well as by American jazz and folk, Leyla’s music is at once earthy, elegant, soulful and witty — it vibrates with three centuries of history, yet also feels strikingly fresh, distinctive and contemporary.

LETTERS HOME TBA, McNeese Campus Letters Home is a compelling theatrical production that puts the current wars in Afghanistan & Iraq front and center by bringing to life actual letters written by soldiers serving in the Middle East. The play without politicizing gives audiences a powerful portrait of the soldier experience in the ongoing war. This critically acclaimed production was nominated for a Joseph Jefferson Award for “Outstanding New Play.” Date and time TBA, please visit banners. org for more information.


City to Haitian emigrant parents, Leyla was immersed in a meld of cultures


from an early age. As a teenager, she relocated to Accra, Ghana for two years before returning to the States to study cello performance and chamber music at NYU.




“SOLO FROM THE PIT”, ELIAS FAINGERSH 3/14/19 @ 7pm Tritico Theatre, Shearman Fine Arts Center Elias Faingersh, “the golden trombone” of Europe, best musician of the year (Sweden), brings his multiple award-winning, Off Broadway hit to Southwest Louisiana. Connecting stories from his life to the operas in which he played, Faingersh guides the audience through a comedic crash course in finding operatic (and personal) meaning, as he recounts his decision to leave a coveted position at the Metropolitan Opera. This story is about the choices faced by most people — whether to pursue comfort and security or follow their dreams. Faingersh’s musical style is unique. He taps, blows and sings into the brass, adroitly flipping it to use a microphone mounted on the back for operatic vocals and hitting foot pedals to loop sound effects. Combining music, comedy and candor, this show is a peek into a composer’s mind.

JEFF BOYER’S BIG BUBBLE BONANZA 3/20/20 @ 10am/7pm Bulber Auditorium, McNeese State University Bubble rainbows with people inside. Audience members making volcano bubbles! Gigantic bubbles that blow their own bubbles? World-famous Guinness Book of World Records-holding master bubble wrangler Jeff Boyer takes bubbles to the max with big bubble flair! Mixing comedy, music, and interactive bubble-magic, Jeff engages and delights audiences of all ages. Jeff Boyer is a proven crowd-pleasing performer engaging, amusing and educating audiences for over 21 years. He’s been excited about bubbles and physics since he was a kid. Studying acting at SUNY Watertown and the Boston Shakespeare Company brought his skills and calling into focus, with Jeff moving into performing for family audiences in 1993. He’s enjoyed being part of ensemble casts and performing one-man shows, which include elements of musical theatre, drama, comedy, science and magic performance. 6 | 2019 Cultural Season

FLYING BALALAIKA BROTHERS 3/21/20 @ 7pm Bulber Auditorium, McNeese State University For nearly 20 years, this feisty group has entranced audiences with their unique blend of electric rock n’ roll with Russian, Ukrainian, and Croatian folk musics. The band’s eye-catching interactive performances feature instruments like the contra-bass balalaika, a triangle-shaped behemoth of a stringed instrument. Seamlessly moving from traditional Russian folk songs to guitar & drum-driven rock, the Flying Balalaika Brothers’ high-energy shows feel more like a block party than a performance.

33RD ANNUAL MCNEESE NATIONAL WORKS ON PAPER EXHIBITION 3/26/20 @ 6pm Grand Gallery, Shearman Fine Arts Center The 33rd Annual McNeese National Works on Paper Exhibition will open with a public reception on Thursday, March 26, 2020 from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Grand Gallery in Shearman Fine Arts Center. The juror, Eleanor Heartney, is a noted art critic and contributing editor to Art in America and Artpress. She will present a gallery talk and announce the purchase awards at 7 p.m. The exhibition will be on view from through May 8, 2020.



4/3/20 @ 10am/7pm Bulber Auditorium JunNk is a music and comedy group that uses various items commonly found in a junkyard to create a unique world of pure entertainment. The show energetically combines superb a cappella singing, captivating percussion and innovative music creations to produce a lively, dynamic and seriously fun show. The performance truly is like nothing you’ve ever seen before and is proving to be a massive hit all around the world. From bottles as panpipes, watering cans as trumpets, PVC didgeridoos and flip flops used to play well-known tunes on drain pipes as well as mesmerizing break-dancing and gymnastics, and all with a sprinkling of clever humor and boundless energy, the JunNk show really has it all and consistently delights audiences of all ages and nationalities.

“90 LIES AN HOUR” BY PAUL STRICKLAND 4/23/20 @ 7pm, Benjamin Mount Theatre, Central School Multi-award-winning storyteller Paul Strickland brings to the Lake Area his original one-man show, “90 Lies an Hour”, a hilarious and heartfelt collection of stories never heard outside of the trailer park until now. Paul Strickland’s Ain’t True and Uncle False live in Big-Fib TrailerPark cul-de-sac, which is a trailer-park in the shape of a cul-de-sac in a town called Big-Fib. “It’s a small community way down south... just off the coast of “factual.” In fact, if you leave “factual” and head due south you’ll pass “Big-Fib” on your way to “Bald-Faced.” Obviously, if you get to “Bald-Faced” ... you’ve gone too far.”

4/24/20 @ 7pm, Bulber Auditorium Originally from the Swahili speaking Eastern Congo Les Mangelepa were formed 40 years ago in Kenya. They have released more than 13 albums and penned some of East Africa’s best-loved songs. At their peak they kept fans busy producing hit after hit; from Zambia to Uganda and from Kenya to Tanzania their brilliant arrangements and superbly crafted songs kept East Africa marching to their beat. In the 1970s their stage shows were breath-taking; afro hairdos, jump-suits, bell-bottoms and platform shoes. They looked the part and, now in their 70s, Mangelepa are the unsung elder statesmen of a classic sound that still shakes the dance-floor. Mangelepa have a core of founding members who front the band, alongside acclaimed Congolese musicians based in Nairobi, and they never wavered from the formula that made them household names in the 70s and the 80s: a formula of rumba, catchy vocals, dance-floor orientated rhythm guitar and their trademark marching snare shuffle.

TAJ MAHAL 5/01/20 @ 7pm, Bulber Auditorium, McNeese State University If anyone knows where to find the blues, it’s Taj Mahal. A brilliant artist with a musicologist’s mind, he has pursued and elevated the roots of beloved sounds with boundless devotion and skill. Then, as he traced origins to the American South, the Caribbean, Africa and elsewhere, he created entirely new sounds, over and over again. A 2017 Grammy win for the album “TajMo,” his collaboration with Keb’ Mo’, brought his Grammy tally to three wins and 14 nominations and underscored his undiminished relevance more than 50 years after his solo debut. Using traditional country blues as a starting place, Taj Mahal perfumes the pot by mixing a spicy concoction of Afrocentric roots music, a blues gumbo kissed by reggae, Latin, R&B, Cajun, Caribbean rhythms, gospel, West African folk, jazz, calypso and Hawaiian slack key.

Paul’s song-filled tall-tale fantasy cycle “Ain’t True & Uncle False,” “Papa Squat,” and “Tales Too Tall for Trailers” have sold out performances all over the continent. A 10-time “Best of Fest” award recipient at Fringe Festivals, Paul won “Best Show” honors at the Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival for “13 Dead Dreams of ‘Eugene’”, and his tall-tale fantasy “Balls of Yarns” was one of 4 shows out of 227 at the Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival to be held over for two extra performances. Paul writes jokes, stories and songs in Covington, KY – a town just off the coast of Cincinnati, OH.





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