NEW ORLEANS — One hundred years ago, Le Petit Theater opened its doors inside the building on Saint Peters Street.
Now, the theatre is making strides to celebrate diversity within the New Orleans community by making the next 100 more accessible and inclusive to everyone.
“There was a little theater movement across America,” says Don Scott-Cooper, Producing Executive Director. “It was the opportunity to take theater from Broadway and bring it to communities.”
Le Petit Theatre Du Vieux Carre’ has done just that as one of the longest-running community theaters.
Executive Director Don Scott-Cooper says the “little theater” movement was a hit from the start in New Orleans.
“What I’m impressed by in the history of Le Petit is they have told really dense, really rich stories from the beginning,” he said. “They’ve done Chekov—they have never shied away from telling important stories.”
Cooper says there has been community support from the very start. Mark Romig is one of the longtime volunteers at Le Petit.
“The history of this theater is replete with actors being on this stage. Helen Hayes for instance comes to mind,” Romig said. “She was a patron of this theatre. That says something about what this theater has done."
The 500-seat theater gives an intimate glimpse of the stories told on this stage and a connection with the actors whose production quality can make you feel part of the story.
That’s what Kenna Moore hopes for as she takes the reign as the Interim Artistic Director, a historic move as Moore could be the first Black woman in the role.
“We definitely want to pay attention to creating more diversity,” Moore said. “Not only for our audience but for those that are on our stage and behind the stage who are doing costumes or directing or designing. We want to make sure that we’re paying attention to those details and we’re being intentional about who we’re hiring and who’s telling these stories.”
Nic Ashe is best known as “Micah” in the hit television show “Queen Sugar” filmed in Southeast Louisiana. He first emerged on the theater stage and debuted, at Le Petit at least, as the director of “Choir Boy.”
“'Choir Boy' chronicles an all boy, all Black Christian boarding school,” says Ashe. “Where we see our protagonist coming up, grappling with who he is and who he wants to be. I think this story resonated with audiences because High School is a really pivotal moment in your life.”
“It was something, I think, Le Petit has never seen before.”
Kenna hopes to continue this new wave of the small theater movement in New Orleans.
“In a growing industry such as film, we need a hub like this where people who look like me can cultivate their skills,” Moore said. “To figure out what they want to do in life.”
Le Petit makes that much easier through education programs and giving access to everyone.
“We have the young conservatory program, which is actor training for Ages 8-18,” Cooper said. “They work with professional artists. We also do a theatrical workforce development program; it teaches you all the backstage things.”
To learn more about the programs, you can visit https://www.lepetittheatre.com/.