The epic story of a flower who longs to love and be loved, The Lily's Revenge draws audiences into an otherworldly theatrical Carnival, clocking in at five hours and featuring a cast of more than 40 actors. The Lily's Revenge (Oct. 18-21) is a collaboration between Southern Rep, several other companies and individual artists. Created by fringe theatre artist Taylor Mac, the original work debuted off Broadway in 2009 to critical acclaim. Since then, Southern Rep artistic director Aimee Hayes, who worked with Mac in New York, has been eager to bring the production to New Orleans.
"It is like Mardi Gras in its purest form," Hayes says. "It's that kind of theatrical spectacle. The spectacle is in the bodies, and the movement, and the pure joy of ecstasy."
The drama tells the story of Lily, a potted plant who aspires to become a man in order to marry the woman of his dreams. Through the course of his transformation, Lily encounters obstacles and allies and attempts to transcend traditional expectations of love and marriage. Hayes calls the play a love story and a hero's journey, but it also is a multimedia experience that defies easy categorization.
Each of the five acts is helmed by a different director, and there is a series of sideshows during each intermission, so the production aspires to be a communal event. Project collaborators include players from Cripple Creek Theatre Company and theatrical staff from AllWays Lounge & Theatre. Tulane University dance professor Jeffrey Gunshol oversees a ballet sequence, and Mondo Bizarro contributes one act in the form of a film. Skin Horse Theatre is creating interactive installation pieces, and playwright Pamela Davis-Noland introduces some local flavor by adding bounce beats and dancing to a garden party scene.
The play's venue, the Den of Muses, which houses Krewe du Vieux floats, lends to the spirit of the production. With each new act, spectators move around the warehouse. The satirical floats and Carnival decorations create a manic funhouse scene, providing a perfect setting for the telling of Lily's tale. — Brad Rhines