NORPA’s box set

ART HISTORY: Janis Balodis with some of NORPA’s promotional material from the past 20 years.
ART HISTORY: Janis Balodis with some of NORPA’s promotional material from the past 20 years.

WHILE Lismore City Hall gets a makeover, NORPA has taken up residence in the old Lismore Club building.

In the moving process, dozens of dusty boxes full of history were uncovered and local playwright Janis Balodis has taken on the job of working his way through the archives to come up with some sort of document celebrating NORPA's rich history.

"I think it's important that we celebrate this history because in the 20 years that NORPA has been in existence, so many other regional theatre organisations have closed down. So above all, it's a story of survival," he said.

Janis said the origins of NORPA could be traced back to a group of people that tried to establish a theatre company at an old gasworks site in South Lismore about 1988-89.

That group included NORPA's founding artistic director Lyndon Terracini, his wife Liz and long-time NORPA board member Andrew Binns.

"They had a gallery and a coffee shop at the gasworks and in 1993 they moved into City Hall and became NORPA (Northern Rivers Performing Arts). So this year is the 20th anniversary of that," Mr Balodis said.

Some of the highlights have been the adaptation of The Cars That Ate Paris; ("there were people in cars doing burnouts behind the audience and people abseiling off the City Hall before they had regulations about OH&S") and the local production The Flood ("we had the audience following the actors through the streets in the rain...).

As he works his way through the boxes of photos, videos and promotional material, Mr Balodis said ideally he would like to do some sort of document, such as a book, that has all of the productions NORPA has created in the region.

"I think Lyndon always had that philosophy, that the stories should come out of the region, and I think Julian (Louis) has really continued that with shows like Railway Wonderland and Engine," he said.

He is also documenting all of the shows NORPA has brought to the region and hopes to interview some of the artists who have gone on to have great careers in the industry.

"Paul Grabowsky did his first musical theatre piece (The Mercenary) here, but there are many others."

Photo wanted

NORPA is trying to find photos from The Cars That Ate Paris (1995) and The Flood (2004).

If you have any, please post them on the NORPA Lismore Facebook page or email them to

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