CULTURAL SEASON

film. music. lecture. performance.

Dear Banners Family,

We MISS you!

As the world continues to navigate the uncharted territory of life during a global pandemic, here at Banners at McNeese State University we are working hard behind the scenes to ensure that the show will eventually go on safely.

We are 100% committed to preserving the health and well-being of our Banners patrons, volunteers, practitioners and supporters. To this end, we are closely monitoring evolving state guidelines and mandates and are actively developing strategies to ensure that, when programming resumes, we do so as responsibly as humanly possible.

Our goal is for all affected Cultural Season events to be rescheduled, and tickets will be valid for the new event dates.

Banners staff is humbled by the sheer number of you who have decided to forgo refunds for your memberships and/or event ticket purchases. We are also sensitive to the fact that not everyone is in the position to do so. For those in need of refunds, we ask that you submit any final refund requests by May 31st so that we may process them in a timely fashion.

In these profound times, we encourage you to support those companies and organizations who provide resources for the betterment of your community. Please visit our SPONSORS page for a list of local culture champions!

For refund requests or any other needs, we welcome you to write us at banners@mcneese.edu or call our office at (337) 475-5997.

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Bringing Live Performances to Your Community

The Banners Cultural Season is an annual performance series full of outstanding talents from around the globe, including live music and arts, readings and academic lectures, film screenings, family entertainment, and more.

Each Spring, a committee of volunteers assists in choosing the season roster, with the series running every March and April since 1993.

Save with our membership packages, available for those avid performance attendees, or check out our economical flex deals to choose pairs of tickets to your three favorite events.

Members Only Opening Reception

Wed March 4, 6-9pm Open House @ Grand Gallery, Shearman Fine Arts (McNeese)

RSVP not required, but appreciated!

Join Team Banners for a night of community and celebration to kick-off the 2020 Cultural Season!

Catered reception for members-only will be held in the beautiful Grand Gallery at Shearman Fine Arts Annex, located on the corner of Ryan and Sale Street on the McNeese State University campus.

Open House reception to run from 6:00-9:00 p.m.

For information on becoming a 2020 member, please visit the Membership page.

Lecture: "The Healing Power of Music", Robin Spielberg

Thurs March 5, 7pm @ Benjamin Mount Theatre, Central School

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, 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.

Robin Spielberg (performance)

Sat March 7, 7pm @ F.G. Bulber Auditorium (McNeese)

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.”

Lecture/film screening: "Beuys", with Christa-Maria Lerm-Hayes

Wed March 11, 2pm @ Tritico Theatre, Shearman Fine Arts (McNeese)

Christa-Maria Lerm-Hayes is an art historian and curator currently working as professor of modern and contemporary art history at the University of Amsterdam. Until 2014, 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 doctoral with practice program. She studied at the Universities of Heidelberg, London, Bonn and Cologne, where she gained her doctorate in 2000 with her research on Joseph Beuys.

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 Lerm-Hayes will take place Wednesday, March 11 at 2 p.m. in the Tritico Theatre in Shearman Fine Arts Center.

The 2017 documentary film, "Beuys," will follow the lecture.

Wit & Wrath: The Life & Times of Dorothy Parker

Thurs March 12, 7pm @ Tritico Theatre, Shearman Fine Arts (McNeese)

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 Dorothy 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.

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 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 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 Parker and her writings, which have stood the test of time.

Leyla McCalla Quartet

Fri March 13, 7pm @ F.G. Bulber Auditorium (McNeese)

Born in New York 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.

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 award-winning 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.

"Solo from the Pit" by Elias Faingersh

Sat March 14, 7pm @ Tritico Theatre, Shearman Fine Arts (McNeese)

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

Fri March 20 @ F.G. Bulber Auditorium (McNeese)

School Show at 10AM - Public show at 7PM

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 has engaged, educated and delighted audiences of all ages for over 21 years.

Studying acting at SUNY Watertown and the Boston Shakespeare Company brought his skills and calling into focus. Jeff moved into performing for family audiences in 1993.

He’s enjoyed collaborating with ensemble casts as well as several one-man shows including musical theatre, drama, comedy, science and magic performance.

The Flying Balalaika Brothers

Sat March 21, 7pm @ F.G. Bulber Auditorium (McNeese)

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.

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33rd Annual Works on Paper

Thurs March 26, 6pm @ Grand Gallery, Shearman Fine Arts (McNeese)

The 33rd Annual McNeese National Works on Paper Exhibition will open with a public reception on Thursday, March 26, from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Grand Gallery in the Shearman Fine Arts Center.

The juror, Eleanor Heartney, is a noted art critic and contributing editor to Art in America and Artpress.

Heartney will present a gallery talk and announce the purchase awards at 7 p.m.

The Works on Paper exhibition will be on view through May 8.

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Elton John and Jack White in "American Epic" documentary
Elton John and Jack White in "American Epic" documentary

Documentary screening: American Epic

Sun March 29, 3pm @ Stokes Auditorium, Hardtner Hall (McNeese)

In the 1920s, as radio took over the pop music business, record companies were forced to leave their studios in major cities in search of new styles and markets. Ranging the mountains, prairies, rural villages, and urban ghettos of America, they discovered a wealth of unexpected talent. The recordings they made of all the ethnic groups of America democratized the nation and gave a voice to everyone. Country singers in the Appalachians, Blues guitarists in the Mississippi Delta, Gospel preachers across the south, Cajun fiddlers in Louisiana, Tejano groups from the Texas Mexico border, Native American drummers in Arizona, and Hawaiian musicians were all recorded. For the first time, a woman picking cotton in Mississippi, a coalminer in Virginia or a tobacco farmer in Tennessee could have their thoughts and feelings heard on records played in living rooms across the country. It was the first time America heard itself.

Over three episodes, narrated by Robert Redford, AMERICAN EPIC rescues this history. The remarkable lives of these seminal musicians are revealed through previously unseen film footage and photographs, and exclusive interviews with music pioneers, their families and eyewitnesses to the era.

AMERICAN EPIC represents a ten-year odyssey undertaken by director Bernard MacMahon and producers Allison McGourty and Duke Erikson, and audio engineer Nicholas Bergh that involved tracking down countless long forgotten musicians, restoring the music that they recorded and reassembling the technology that created it. Along the way they brought some of the most important figures in contemporary culture to help them on their quest. Executive Producers Jack White, T Bone Burnett and Robert Redford have lent their support to what Redford calls “America’s greatest untold story”.

Starring: The Carter Family, Memphis Jug Band, Elder Burch, The Williamson Bros. & Curry, Dick Justice, Charley Patton, Hopi Indian Chanters, Joseph Kekuku, Lydia Mendoza, the Breaux Family, Mississippi John Hurt, and Blind Willie Johnson

Join Banners at McNeese for a special screening of the third episode, featuring Louisiana musicians the Lost Bayou Ramblers and Banners Series alumni The Americans and Pokey Lafargue, as well as blues legend Taj Mahal, who will perform on May 1 as part of the 2020 Banners Series. Admission is free and seating is limited.

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Pokes in the Oaks Outdoor Concert Series, with The FLAMETHROWERS!

Thurs April 2, 4:30pm @ Front Lawn of F.G. Bulber Auditorium (McNeese)

Pokes in the Oaks is a family-friendly fete on the McNeese campus. This FREE outdoor concert will feature live music, libations, and scrumptious food offerings. Kick back on the beautiful oak-lined lawn in front of the historic F.G. Bulber Auditorium and celebrate our Southwest Louisiana community.

Louisiana's favorite party rock cover band The Flamethrowers will take the stage on the steps of Bulber, along with some of McNeese's finest performing arts students from the group Main Entree. We'll see you there!

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JunNk

Fri April 3 @ F.G. Bulber Auditorium (McNeese)

School Show at 10AM - Public show at 7PM

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.

McLeod Lecture Series: "Hands Across the Great Divide"

Sun April 19, 3pm @ F.G. Bulber Auditorium (McNeese)

The McLeod Lecture Series, founded in honor of Bill McLeod, former legislator, judge and community leader, returns in 2020.

This long-running series is dedicated to presenting timely as well as historical aspects of Louisiana politics and efforts to promote a climate of good government.

This year’s participants, distinguished Louisiana academics, journalists and political figures, pool their collective decades of experience, expertise, and finely honed observations to assess our current communicative dysfunction, discussing potential solutions to our inability to discuss our differences and building strategies to regain temperate discourse and unifying policies.

Moderator: John Bridges

Guest panelists:

  • Dr. John Fletcher of LSU, Moderator of Better Angels
  • Jim Beam
  • Robert Gambrell Jones
  • John Alario
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"Childproof America: Safeguarding Families from Sex Trafficking" lecture

Tues April 21 @ Tritico Theatre, Shearman Fine Arts (McNeese)

In partnership with the Junior League of Lake Charles, special guests Kelly and Courtney Litvak will discuss signs, behaviors, strategies, statistics, trauma-bonds, aftercare needs, social media threats and more to safeguard you and the ones you love against human trafficking, the fastest growing criminal industry in the world.

"90 Lies an Hour" by Paul STrickland

Thurs APril 23, 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 Trailer-Park 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.”

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'". 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.

Doolin

Fri April 24, 7pm @ F.G. Bulber Auditorium (McNeese)

Doolin’, formed in Toulouse in 2005, comprises six accomplished and eclectic musicians on guitar, bodhrán, violin, tin whistle, accordion/vocals, and bass. French in origin – though easily mistaken for Irish musicians – this sextet brings a fresh approach to Irish music.

Inspired by the purest tradition, Doolin’ combines instrumentals, vocals and original compositions in a resolutely modern style. The arrangements, at times taking their inspiration from pop-rock, folk, jazz, funk or even rap, emit great energy.

That’s Doolin’ – Irish music with a French touch!

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Rus Blackwell will also give a free actor's workshop to be held at 6 p.m. on April 29th in F.G. Bulber Auditorium. This workshop will also be available on a first come, first served basis. Actors are requested to have a monologue under 2 minutes and be prepared to do scene work. Those interested, please contact Brook Hanemann at bhanemann@mcneese.edu

"Inside the Creative Mind", Rus Blackwell

Thurs April 30, 7pm @ Squires Auditorium, Shearman Fine Arts (McNeese)

Join acclaimed stage and screen actor / director / educator / producer Rus Blackwell as he gives an intimate insider glimpse of the passions, challenges and journeys of the creative soul. This event will include on stage examples of the performer’s process (willing audience members may even be pulled on stage to demonstrate!) and will give a behind the scenes look at what drives those drawn to theatre, film and to storytelling in its many manifestations.

Best known for his work as District Attorney Gordon Hopewell in the Cinemax series Banshee, Blackwell’s career spans 30 years and over 80 film and television credits as well as dozens of theatre productions. His resume includes work on the Award winning series The Walking Dead, Oscar and Emmy Award winning Monster and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, HBO’s Recount. Most recently, Blackwell played Cmdr. Lee Atkins on the A&E series Six.

Are you an impassioned lover of the arts or an aspiring filmmaker, actor, musician, writer, artist or producer? Are you simply an admirer of the arts? Come engage in an evening of creative inspiration!

This event is free and open to the public: FIRST COME, FIRST SERVED! Registration does not guarantee a seat.

Taj Mahal

Fri May 1, 7pm @ F.G. Bulber Auditorium (McNeese)

Taj Mahal is a towering musical figure––a legend who transcended the blues not by leaving them behind, but by revealing their magnificent scope to the world. “The blues is bigger than most people think,” he says. “You could hear Mozart play the blues. It might be more like a lament. It might be more melancholy. But I’m going to tell you: the blues is in there.”

If anyone knows where to find the blues, it’s Taj. 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. As a result, he’s not only a god to rock ‘n roll icons such as Eric Clapton and the Rolling Stones, but also a hero to ambitious artists toiling in obscurity who are determined to combine sounds that have heretofore been ostracized from one another. No one is as simultaneously traditional and avant-garde.

Quantifying his significance is impossible, but people try anyway. 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. Blues Hall of Fame membership, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Americana Music Association and other honors punctuate his résumé.

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. The savory dish he serves is both a satisfying and uplifting stew that actually transforms ‘singin’ the blues’ into something to be very happy about.

Dates, times, artists, and venues are subject to change. In these cases, Banners will notify patrons via social media and email.
sponsors 2020 cultural season - splash image web

Save By Purchasing a Membership or Flex Tickets

Thank you SWLA for an amazing 2019!

Puddles Pity Party (photo: Killer Photography)

Abdullah Ibrahim (photo: Chuck Curet)

Red Hot Chilli Pipers (photo: Killer Photography)

William Aprill's "Unthinkable: Inside Criminal Minds"

Chase Padgett's "6 Guitars" (photo: Killer Photography)

An Evening with Josephine Baker

The Americans (photo: Killer Photography)

Freedom Brass, the United States Air Force Band

Box 90215
Lake Charles, LA 70609
337-475-5997