NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) —There is a new play showing at The New Orleans Museum of Art’s Lapis Center, put on by The NOLA Project. “White,” is a one act 90-minute dark comedy centered around race, cultural appropriation, access, sexuality and gender.
A.J. Allegra is the Artistic Director of The NOLA Project and says, “I think what makes this play special, is that it takes really serious and somewhat touchy topics and makes them palatable, enjoyable and fun for everyone.”
White was written by James Ijames and is a comedic play inspired by a real life event, that happened in 2014 at The Whitney Museum in New York City. In 2014, a white visual artist, Joe Scanlan attempted to pass off his paintings as a black visual artist, to gain access to an exhibition that was showcasing artists of color.
Matthew Thompson is one of the actors in the play at NOMA. Thompson’s character is Tanner, the main character, Gus’ boyfriend, who also happens to be black.
“Gus is a white artist, who has hired an African American actress, to present his work, because he is told that he can’t get into a prestigious show, that he wants to get into, as a white man. I play, his partner, who is black, who as you can imagine, is not too pleased, when he finds out, what his partner has done,” explains Thompson.
The play is unique, because it takes place at The New Orleans Museum of Art’s Lapis Center and the play’s setting is also in an art museum. In 2019, the National Library of Medicine conducted a study that found 85 percent of artists that were exhibited in major art museums were white. 87 percent of that same study group of artists were male. The findings show a stark lack of diversity in color and gender in the art world.
Uniquely, as the play, “White” takes place in NOMA, NOMA showcases an exhibition that showcases the late African American painter, Jacob Lawrence. Black Orpheus: Jacob Lawrence and the Mbari Club is centered around the late African American painter, who painted themes of West Africa and the African American Experience.
Matt Armato, plays the character Gus in “White” and says, “having this show in an art museum, really helps get the feel for the whole art world that we are in. It makes us ask questions about whose art we highlight the most. There is as lot of fun playing this character. He is kind of a total psycho and he makes a lot of mistakes.”
“All performances are at 7:30pm. In every performance audiences can dine at Cafe NOMA starting at 6:00pm, to make a whole evening of it. You can have dinner, drinks and a show,” says A.J. Allegra.
In total, there are 12 performances of “White.” Tickets can be purchased here, at the NOLA Project’s website, as well as at the door.