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From Hollywood to Hollywood South: Loyola professor opens play in Los Angeles & New Orleans to rave reviews

Loyola press release - 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 through Sunday, Nov. 30 at the Fountain Theatre. In New Orleans, Southern Rep’s production of the play will run from through Sunday, Nov. 2. 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.”

“Broomstick” is already garnering rave reviews both in Los Angeles and New Orleans. The Los Angeles Times named "Broomstick" one of its "Critics Picks" the week of Halloween. "Tightly woven, richly detailed and fully enjoyable, this 'Broomstick' sweeps away any resistance we might have to its ostensible slightness, leaving us with giggles, shivers and even a lump in our throat," according to the review in The Los Angeles Times.

“Biguenet has cast a deeper spell, and one that is uniquely enchanting ... (He) has written the entire script in verse, rhyming couplets cast in iambic pentameter ... the rhythms capturing the sound of a fairy tale, while remaining natural speech. That love of the language and Biguenet’s gift for spinning a good yarn by the fireplace makes ‘Broomstick’ one of the highlights of the fall season,” according to The Times-Picayune | NOLA.com.

“‘Broomstick,’ the new play by celebrated playwright and novelist John Biguenet, is devilishly ambitious in its simplicity ... spinning a yarn of terror and loss ... a gripping tale to be told with the lights off. The playwright, gifted author of ‘Rising Water,’ manages the difficult juggling of story, texture and poetry. It’s his strongest theatrical effort to date,” according to The New Orleans Advocate.

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.

For media interviews or high-resolution photos, please contact Mikel Pak, Loyola associate director of public affairs.