2006, New Orleans, LA
Scenario for New Orleans
A proposal from Richard Schechner

Download a HOME, New Orleans? brochure.

Problem and Opportunity:

To energize and/or memorialize the devastated neighborhoods, especially the Lower Ninth Ward and Lakeview. To use some traditional NOLA practices of celebrating death with renewal in terms of the post-Katrina situation.


Artists – including students at NOCCA, and elsewhere – locate the former residents of as many homes as possible in the devastated areas. By means of interviews – either in person or via the internet – get life histories of the homes themselves and of the events that took place there. Detail these as much as possible: recorded interviews, photo documentation, memory-drawings, musics, etc.

Once a significant number of "home life histories" have been acquired, simultaneously stage as many of these as possible at the same time in or in front of the homes themselves. That is, bring the homes "back to life" if only temporarily. Mark the homes by performing particular events that took place in them. Celebrations, songs, dances, meals, births, deaths, weddings, fights: across the whole vast range of human experience that was lived in these neighborhoods.

If this is done simultaneously, on a particular day, or several days, the devastated neighborhoods will, at least temporarily, be brought back to life. Whether this becomes a memorial – a farewell ritual – or a harbinger of rebirth remains to be seen. But in either case, a ritual awakening and/or remembering ought to be enacted.

Ideally, performances begin the weekend after Lent and continue each weekend toward Easter. On Easter Saturday, all performances are given simultaneously, and then a great parade – emanating from several neighborhoods – a living river of people, puppets, maskers, rejuvenators – converge on the Superdome – to give that home of bad experiences a second chance. On Easter Saturday 2007, the Great Parade of Life meets at the Superdome full of life and hope.

Resources necessary:

First: human resources. People who want to undertake this as a specific set of performances.

Second: research, travel, and internet resources in order to find the persons who will be interviewed.

Third: gathering of "first hand" materials – pieces of furniture, mementos, photographs, etc. What is eerie about the devastated homes is that so much was abandoned in a great rush. There is an enormous amount of valuable personal material concerning life histories still in the homes. As much of this as possible needs to be recovered and honored.

Fourth: technical resources for performing on the spot in the Lower Ninth and Lakeview. If the performances are during the day, minimal portable electric power will be necessary. Sunlight and daylight should be used to the maximum. If there are performances indoors, powerful flashlights can serve as illumination. Also candles. If the performances are at night, the power problem becomes more difficult. Using "natural" illumination such as any kind of fire other than candles may be a fire risk.

In addition to Lakeview and the Ninth Ward, home sites may be selected from all New Orleans devastated areas including the East, Gentilly, Lakewood South, Treme, Broadmoor, Mid City, etc.

Many oral history efforts are already underway. These may be resources both through house stories they have already obtained as well as our requesting that questions pertaining to pre-Katrina lives of the homes be added to these groups’ lists of questions.

Each home site will have a team of artists, designers, musicians, technicians. NOLA theater companies, artists groups, etc. – existing pre-K and newly formed post-K – will choose site(s) and work both individually and in tandem with the larger HOME NOLA? effort to realize this project.

Tentative Timeline:

Summer 2006: Organizational framework development: concept, fundraising, partnership/infrastructure plans.

Fall 2006: Teams, Sites, & Oral Histories identified and developed. Fundraising and concept development efforts continue. Ongoing photo & video documentation of entire process.

Winter 2007: RS to work in residence for 2 weeks in January (tentatively at A Studio in the Woods) where home site team/directors will meet with him (there and/or at CAC.)

Ash Wednesday thru Easter Eve: Home site rejuvenation rituals/ceremonies/celebration.

Easter Saturday: The Great Parade of Life through the neighborhoods converging on the Superdome.


©  2006 The Vestiges Project.