Banners Series

LAKE CHARLES — Banners at McNeese State University celebrates its 25th anniversary season of bringing “a world of culture” to Southwest Louisiana with 13 events spread over seven weeks, from March 14 through April 27. Events range from the heart-stopping acrobats of “Cirque-tacular” and zombie expert Matt Mogk’s advice on surviving the zombie apocalypse to jazz music and the big brass band sound from Philadelphia and a one-man play on Sir Winston Churchill.

“Our goal each year is to bring the most exceptional arts and humanities programming to Southwest Louisiana. We are just one part of the rich cultural tapestry of our community that makes our quality of life enviable,” says Patricia Prudhomme, director of Banners at McNeese.

Since 1992, the community has welcomed an unbelievable variety of talent thanks to Banners at McNeese. This includes international award-winning authors, Grammy-award winning singers and musical groups, documentaries and films, dancers, comedians and lecturers and so much more.

According to Prudhomme, the mission of Banners at McNeese is to “provide our community with easy access to exceptional arts and humanities programming and education that are unique to our area. We want to enhance the quality of life in our region and make the area more attractive to people, businesses and industry relocating to Southwest Louisiana.”

Conceived under the guidance of Dr. Robert Hebert, then president of McNeese, and the vision of its first director, Mary Richardson, Banners is recognized as one of the region’s finest arts and humanities series. The program received the 2014 Outstanding Arts Organization of the Year Award presented by the Louisiana Office of Cultural Development.

Prudhomme says Banners at McNeese not only includes the annual cultural season but also its educational programming for area K-12 students and collaborations with other organizations to support the arts and humanities in Southwest Louisiana.

“Each year, with the support of our sponsors, we bring arts and humanities programs and performances to nearly 10,000 K-12 students in Calcasieu, Cameron and Jefferson Davis parishes that are designed to develop creative, innovative and entrepreneurial thinking,” she added.

Banners at McNeese is supported by corporate sponsors, memberships, grants and its annual fall fundraiser - the Rouge et Blanc food and wine event held on campus. The Banners Committee is all volunteers and includes community members and McNeese faculty, staff and students.    

To see the various levels of membership available or ticket prices for some of the events, check out the Banners website at or call the Banners office at 337-475-5123.

2017 Calendar of Events

• Members Only Opening Party – March 10

Isle of Capri Casino Hotel

5:30 p.m. reception, 7 p.m. performance

Banners kicks off its 25th season with an exclusive reception for members, topped off with a special a performance of cross-cultural, genre-bending music by Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder.

• Etienne Charles – March 14

Lake Charles Central School Theatre, 7 p.m.

Up-and-coming trumpeter Etienne Charles brings his jazz to Lake Charles in a bold and bluesy performance. Charles’ music draws from his own diverse roots, combining elements of both American and traditional Caribbean island influences.

• Matt Mogk: Zombies, Run! – March 16

Tritico Theatre, Shearman Fine Arts Annex, 7 p.m.

With this tongue-in-cheek lecture, Mogk brings to audiences an interactive multi-media talk that includes essential information for survival in the face of the coming undead apocalypse.

• The Rodney Marsalis Philadelphia Big Brass Band – March 17

Tritico Theatre, Shearman Fine Arts Annex, 7 p.m.

Some of America’s top brass musicians come together to put on a stunning performance of traditional gospel songs, Sousa march, Dixieland and swing-era jazz, rock ‘n’ roll, R&B and funk.

• Shadow Theatre Fireflies – March 21

Rose Hart Theatre, Lake Charles Civic Center, 7 p.m.

Shadow Theatre Fireflies is a remarkable new take on ancient storytelling forms, combining the traditional art of shadow puppetry and shadowgraphy with modern technology into a spectacular new art form.

• The Doo Wop Project – March 24

Tritico Theatre, Shearman Fine Arts Annex, 7 p.m.

The Doo Wop Project traces the evolution of Doo Wop from the classic sound of five guys singing tight harmonies on a street corner to the biggest hits on the radio today, featuring current and former stars of Broadway’s smash hits “Jersey Boys” and “Motown: The Musical.”

• “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” – March 25

Cinemark Lake Charles, 3 p.m.

Based on the 1964 children’s book by Roald Dahl, this 1971 film follows Charlie Bucket, a poor child who wins a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to tour the factory of famous recluse and genius confectioner, Willy Wonka. Accompanied by the other golden ticket winners, Charlie has to navigate the treacherous temptations of Willy Wonka’s Factory and outlast the other insufferable ticket holders for the chance to win a lifetime supply of chocolate.

• Churchill – March 30

Lake Charles Central School Theatre, 7 p.m.

Set 10 years after the conclusion of World War II, Andrew Edlin stars as the shrewd and insightful 80-year-old Sir Winston Churchill as he wrestles with his role in British politics and the changing, post-war world.

• The Wrecking Crew – April 4

Cinemark Lake Charles, 6 p.m.

While bands like the Beach Boys, the Monkees and the Mamas & the Papas were topping the charts in the 1960s, the unsung heroes behind the music remained in the background, unnamed and unknown. With his documentary “The Wrecking Crew,” director Denny Tedesco shines a light on the legendary group of Los Angeles-based studio musicians that made the classic songs we know and love.

• Acrobats of Cirque-tacular – April 7

Burton Coliseum, 7 p.m.

Cirque-tacular brings the fantastic and fantasy of the traditional circus show to a modern audience. Stunning costumes, original music, amazing feats and mesmerizing performances combine to create a one-of-a-kind family-friendly experience that must be seen to be believed.

• “Mystic Iran: The Unseen World” – April 13

Holbrook Student Union, McNeese State University – 6 p.m.

Persian filmmaker Aryana Farshad recently journeyed through Iran to film the great variety of ancient religious rituals still practiced deep within her native country. This exquisite documentary captures spiritual rites hidden for centuries, the women’s chambers in the great mosques, a spontaneous fire ritual in a cave occupied by followers of Zarathustra, sacred dances to pulsating drumbeats and much more.

• “Free State of Jones” – April 22

Cinemark Lake Charles, 3 p.m.

Written and directed by four-time Oscar nominee Gary Ross and starring Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey, “Free State of Jones” is an epic action-drama set during the Civil War. The movie tells the story of defiant Southern farmer, Newt Knight, who banded together with other small farmers and local slaves to launch an uprising that led Jones County, Mississippi, to secede from the Confederacy, creating a Free State of Jones.

Extreme Killing: Understanding Serial and Mass Murder - April 25

Tritico Theatre in Shearman Fine Arts Annex, 7 p.m.

Northeastern University Professor Emeritus Dr. Jack Levin will deliver a thought-provoking account on the sociology behind the growing epidemic of mass shootings. The author or co-author of more than 30 books, Levin brings an expert’s perspective to public understanding of mass murders and the criminal mind.  

• Tiempo Libre - April 27

Rosa Hart Theatre, Lake Charles Civic Center, 7 p.m.

Three-time Grammy-nominated Afro-Caribbean music group Tiempo Libre is one of the hottest Latin bands today. Equally at home in concert halls, jazz clubs, festival stages and dance venues, Tiempo Libre is celebrated for its sophisticated tropical music featuring an irresistible, exhilarating mix of jazz harmonies, contemporary sonorities and seductive Latin rhythms.