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From Hollywood to Hollywood South: Loyola professor opening play in Los Angeles and New Orleans

September 23, 2014

“Broomstick,” the latest play by Loyola University New Orleans professor and award-winning playwright John Biguenet telling the story of a confessing witch in a quirky way—written entirely in rhymed iambic pentameter—will open in Los Angeles and New Orleans just in time for the Halloween season this October.

In Los Angeles for its West Coast premiere starring celebrated actress Jenny O’Hara (known for movies “Mystic River” and “Matchstick Men”), the play will run from Saturday, Oct. 4 to Sunday, Nov. 30 at the Fountain Theatre. In New Orleans, Southern Rep’s production of the play will run from Wednesday, Oct. 1 to Sunday, Nov. 2 with an opening reception set for Saturday, Oct. 4. Biguenet will also headline interactive talkbacks following Southern Rep’s 3 p.m. matinees on Oct. 5, 19 and 26. All New Orleans shows will be held at the Ashé Cultural Arts Center located at 1712 Oretha C. Haley Blvd.

Biguenet’s “Broomstick” is the story of a witch who tells all: her first love affair, how she discovered her powers and how she has used them. Set in an isolated cabin in the woods, the tale of this witch wrestles with good and evil—but in her world justice is dealt swiftly and harshly. In “Broomstick,” whiners end up in casseroles.

“It’s a one-woman show that runs 80 minutes, and it takes considerable talent to be on the stage alone and command the audience’s attention with such a peculiar task of speaking in rhymed, iambic pentameter,” Biguenet said. Although somewhat out-of-the-ordinary, writing in iambic pentameter and rhyme can actually help the actress to memorize the script—something he shares with his poetry classes at Loyola.

“Besides this being an aid to memory, a great deal of the witch’s power resides in her ability to use language in ways that others can’t,” Biguenet said. “The spells, the curses depend upon language itself. She can talk in rhyme forever, so she does seem to have that supernatural power.”

After premiering at the New Jersey Repertory Company in Long Branch, N.J., last fall, “Broomstick” is already garnering rave reviews. “A must-see … John Biguenet’s hit play, ‘Broomstick,’ sweeps away the dust that lies on the path between fantasy and reality (and) is so seamless, its 90 minutes fly by,” according to Broadway World.

TriCity News said the play “doesn’t settle for just entertaining … the show shocks with moments of unexpected insight … Biguenet’s writing (is) so skillful that you might not even realize the play was written in verse until you’re already 15 or 20 minutes into it.”

“Broomstick will sweep you away!” according to “The Reading Life” on National Public Radio affiliate, WWNO.

The play also won the National New Play Network’s Continued Life of New Plays award, which helps underwrite a play with premiere productions already under contract at theaters nationwide. “Broomstick” also ran at the Montana Repertory Theatre this September.

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