A Louisiana Gentleman and other New Orleans Comedies: Vol 1
by Rosary Hartel O'Neill
Sex, money and decadence among the upper classes in contemporary New Orleans
7 Plays of Contemporary New Orleans
318 Pages, illustrated.
Volume One contains modern plays set in pre-Katrina New Orleans, the City that Care Forgot. After I founded Southern Repertory Theatre in New Orleans, we initiated a new play festival to develop new voices and a friend challenged me to write. My play, Wishing Aces, won me a Senior Fulbright Research Specialist grant to Paris. From then on, I stopped writing textbooks and wrote plays primarily about New Orleans.
I would like my plays to communicate to audiences worldwide that New Orleans is a unique city in America and should be cherished.
When shaping a play, I take a question that disturbs me that I can't figure out, such as: why can't this professor and this student communicate in a profound way? Why can't this mother set boundaries for her out-of-control son? What would it take for that to happen? I then look at voice and structure, using the names of people from my life (I may change these later) to get the right phrasing and tone. I put these ghosts in my play, pick the most haunting place in New Orleans, and use cards to come up with an outline of scenes. Place inspires that sense of mystery that is so important to the theatre: an abandoned train station in the Louisiana swamps, a Baroness Pontalba apartment in the Quarter, a Garden District mansion. Place, weather, time, sounds inspire designers who are critical to creating the images the story requires. I try to fill my plays with details from New Orleans; the heat, the rain, the light through the oaks, the phantom gallery of a plantation house at dusk so that you too can experience what it's like to live here.
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Reviews of "A Louisiana Gentleman and Other New Orleans Comedies
LOVELY LAUGH-FILLED LOUISIANA 5.0 out of 5 stars - A Kid's Review on November 19, 2008
I laughed myself silly reading these whimsical tales about New Orleans' jaded characters. I felt like I had entered the private worlds of the Garden District and Uptown New Orleans. O'Neill writes with power and mastery about her famous city. Characters are personal and provocative--the Tulane professor, the controlling matriarch, the desperate French Quarter actress. All the characters force their way onto the stage like Tennessee Williams' heroines and heroes; they call out to the reader to imagine their predicament and bring them to life. I can't wait to see these comedies on stage. Bravo O'Neill.
The Theater of Rosary O'Neill: 5.0 out of 5 stars - Brendan Mccall on October 7, 2008
The plays of Rosary O'Neill have the best of that American literature of the South has to offer: passion, eccentricity, wit, intelligence, and humanity. Comparisons to Tennessee Williams great dramas are inevitable, as Dr. O'Neill made her home in New Orleans and founded Southern Rep. Her background in acting & directing are evident in her dramaturgy: these plays are ready to be performed! If you're an actor, you will probably chomp at the bit to play one of these flamboyant, complicated, charismatic characters. If you are a director, your imagination will be fired by the possibilities of recreating these plays from Lousiana life. This first volume of her works centers largely on plays set in or around New Orleans, this 'Paris of the South', with its unique collection of mountebanks, poets, pining lovers and crushed idealists. Hopefully the publication of this volume will encourage more people to perform her works in the immediate future.
Five star all the way! 5.0 out of 5 stars - Kelly S. Williams on October 4, 2008
A LOUISIANA GENTLEMAN is full of wonderful Louisiana folklore and romantic
tales of New Orleans. We follow the Dubonnet clan through most of the plays.
Going behind lace curtains and on the balcony of the Pontalba apartments, we
discover the intriguing world of New Orleans night life and romance. All the
stories are powerful in themselves and the characters so Southern in their
"white suits in summer, navy blazers in fall, a nurse to sleak down every
wisp of hair." A must read for any serious lover of Southern fiction.
BRAVO !!! 5.0 out of 5 stars - Julie on October 1, 2008
A LOUISIANA GENTLEMAN is an extraordinary compilation of love stories in pre-Katrina New Orleans. O'Neill takes us to the Pontalba apartments, to Exposition Blvd, to the Garden District, to Pass Christian--all over the secret rendez-vous of the rich and privileged of New Orleans. In the book, we see the south through a group of interrelated stories of the DUBONNET FAMILY, whose member typify the jaded and rich upper class--drinking Mint Juleps and eating Russian caviar and dreaming of money and fame, while scrambling for money in back. As Irene Dubonnet says, "We are the people the great Louisiana hotels were built for. . . My family is I suspect the most miserable one I know." These plays are a delight to read and will be extraordinary to see. Simple sets and intoxicating characters abound.
Evocative and highly recommended 5.0 out of 5 stars - Nancy Gall-Clayton on August 6, 2008
Expertly written and evocative of the mystery and atmosphere of New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina, the plays in A LOUISIANA GENTLEMAN are worthy of both armchair reading and production on stage. They tell stories that could happen only in and around New Orleans, and the characters are so well crafted you come to know them better than they know themselves - their passions, their flaws, their prejudices, and all their idiosyncracies. The settings are just as distinctive and vivid. The time in the title play, for example, is, "twilight, that uncertain time between the quiet of night and the noise of day when the apartments blend into the shadows." In SOLITAIRE, there is a "lazy Sundaytableau," and "the soft cries of sea gulls and the lapping of waves" are heard. The character names, too, are expressive (Quint, Rooster, Hetty, and Beau, for example) as are their descriptions. Dale Ellen Ashton has a "haunted radiance that makes her fragility more precious." Whether a particular play takes place in a mansion on Exposition Boulevard, an abandoned way station near an old train depot, or the deck of the Dixie Queen paddle boat, you will be drawn into the world Rosary Hartel O'Neill creates. I savored each play and feel certain that you will, too.
New Orleans Drama and Delight 5.0 out of 5 stars - Reader from New Jersey on July 17, 2008
These two volumes of plays collect work of much produced and honored Rosary Hartel O'Neill set in anr about her home town of New Orleans, Louisiana. The Plays in GHOSTS are historical- about figures like Edgar Degas and John Singer Sargent's Madame X who all had New Orleans connections. The LOUISIANA GENTLEMAN plays are about people in New Orleans in the recent past- in the years just before Hurricane Katrina. The characters in all cases are vivid and naturally dramatic- there is a joie de vivre in language, in emotion, even in struggle. Everyone seems born to be on stage- that is, the characters see themselves as having dramatic, expressive, and meaningful lives- and readers are pulled in and believe it too. The characters and the city seem equally essential here; one feels enriched and enlivened for having encountered them.