Baton Rouge’s performing arts community has a new theatre company in town. Red magnolia is a women's-centered community theatre with an interesting story to tell.
“Steel Magnolias,” is a classic story about the bond six women share in a North Louisiana town, as they cope with the death of a loved one. This rendition was done by Red Magnolia Theatre Company, an all-female community theatre in Baton Rouge. Coincidently, Red Magnolia was started by six women whose love for theatre brought them together, but their inspiration to start the company went beyond just putting on a show.
“What inspired it is that we wanted friendship. We wanted to keep our friendship through theatre,” said Paula Shreve.
The friendship started during a house party in 2017. Michele Johnson was the first to bring up the idea for a female centered theatre company.
“When I had kids, I – I just found myself, it was really difficult to go and do a show and I miss the camaraderie,” said Johnson.
When Johnson was 20-years-old, she performed “Steel Magnolias” with an all-female theatre company in North Carolina. Years later, after moving to Baton Rouge, Johnson asked the theatre’s president how to start one of her own.
“We got to talking and she said ‘Well, if you wanna start a theater company I can give you some pointers. I can’t give you any money but I can give you some advice,’” said Johnson.
So the six friends began reading plays that mainly centered around female characters.
C. Jaye miller played the role of Shelby in “Steel Magnolias.” She found Red Magnolia when she needed it the most.
“I had just moved to town from Chicago and I didn’t know many people. So, it was really great. And I met some really good friends through this,” said Jaye.
They finished “Steel Magnolias” this past November. The 30th anniversary of the movie.
“It just all kind of fell perfectly, like it was meant to be at that time. And it went really well,” said Johnson.
“It’s not about a social statement at all. It’s really just about better roles for us while we have a good time and represent really good characters that we know. People we know,” said Shreve.
The women of Red Magnolia say they have discovered something through this whole process.
“I think what surprised me the most has been the excitement from women to be a part of this organization,” said Johnson.
“And having fun. Fun is actually part of our mission statement. And that’s very important to us as we grow older, as we have children, as we have responsibilities at home and at work that we still keep the connection alive with friends through theatre,” said Shreve.
Red Magnolia Theatre also says they do offer male roles in shows. They want to include everyone.
For more information on how to get involved you can visit their website at www.redmagnoliatc.org.