Despite a forced name change, the 4-year-old Shadowbox Theatre in the Faubourg Marigny will be able to keep its brand going with the launch of its new, in-house theatrical company in early 2015.
Richard Mayer, founder and executive director of the Shadowbox, recently announced the formation of the Lux et Umbra performing group that will operate under the auspices of the theater. The announcement coincides with a second announcement that the Shadowbox will be changing its name to comply with a cease-and-desist order from a 20-year-old Columbus, Ohio, theater group with a similar trademarked name.
The theater will be changing its name to The Old Marquer Theatre on Jan. 10, reflecting the building’s 85-year heritage as a former pharmacy. The blue neon sign, Marquer Drugs, still stands atop the structure and will serve as a sort of “marquee” for the theater at St. Claude and St. Roch avenues, Mayer said.
That’s how the new name will be pronounced, Mayer emphasized.
But though the theater will be giving up its name, the “shadow” portion of it remains, albeit in a foreign tongue. The word “umbra” in the new theatrical company’s name is Latin for “shadow,” Mayer explained.
“I wanted to make sure the production company’s name is still tied into the Shadowbox concept, even though the theater is going to have a different name,” Mayer said. “There’s no other company in the world using Lux et Umbra. We triple checked on that.”
The full name of the company, Lux et Umbra, means “light and shadow.” Mayer said that it comes from a Latin expression meaning “Good and bad things, light and darkness, come and go in your life, but love always remains.”
“Lux et Umbra will continue the Shadowbox’s tradition of staging diverse and unusual shows, with an emphasis on new, original and rarely produced plays,” Mayer said in his prepared statement. He elaborated during a recent interview by saying that the company’s newer productions “will definitely be avant garde.”
“We’re interested in doing work that isn’t seen around town very often,” Mayer said. “We don’t want to be doing the same things people have seen a hundred times. There’s so much great work out there. Not only original things, but classics, too.”
Lux et Umbra will be staging three shows at the theater in the first five months of 2015, Mayer announced in a Dec. 1 press release. They are
“Your Lithopedion” (Jan. 15-Feb. 1) by Justin Maxwell
“The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tails” (March 12-22) by Jon Scieszka, adapted by Andrew Vaught and Kristen Gremillion
the Greek classic “Antigone” (May 7-24) by Sophocles
The choice of “Antigone,” a Greek classic written over 2,400 years ago, was because it hasn’t been staged in New Orleans for more than a decade, according to Mayer.
The company’s leadoff production, “Your Lithopedion,” revolves around a seemingly normal couple, except for the fact that the husband is a serial killer. Glenn Aucoin stars in the title role, along with Rebecca Elizabeth Hollingsworth. Bonnie Gabel is the director.
“The Stinky Cheese Man,” Mayer said, “is just about the weirdest children’s book ever written. So we’re adapting it to stage. It’s going to be a really bizarre, really wonderful show. It spoofs well-known fairy tales with stories such as ‘The Really Ugly Duckling’ and ‘Little Red Running Shorts.’ ”
Following the end of its run on March 22, the children’s show plans to tour local schools in April and May.
Open auditions for “The Stinky Cheese Man” will be on Jan. 17 and 18. No dates have been set for auditions for “Antigone.”
The theater will be celebrating its name change with a party from 10 p.m. till after midnight, Jan. 9-10. Proceeds from ticket sales will go toward the theater’s re-branding efforts and replacing its worn-out velvet curtains.
Mayer also announced that the theater will be needing a logo with the new name and a contest is being held. The design winner and a guest will win a year’s free admission. Those interested in submitting their designs can do so on the theater’s Facebook page or by emailing theshadowboxtheatre @gmail.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.