Come see us tonight at Cité des Arts for Finding Nelson Mandela, Dennis Ward's original play, a comedy-drama about one woman's journey for freedom. Come tonight or Sunday afternoon, the play runs through the weekend.
Rose Hoffman Cormier and I were interviewed on KRVS 88.7 by Judith Meriwether. We talked about the production of my new play, Finding Nelson Mandela.
Click below to listen to an interview about the play, Finding Nelson Mandela.
University of Louisana’s, UL-Press, releases, Dennis Ward’s novel, Madame Gigi.
Madame Gigi, the second book in the Gigi series, continues the epic story of Gigi’s life in America.
She reaches the shores of America in the spring of 1946 after
surviving the holocaust. Foremost in her thoughts is reuniting with her new Cajun husband, but standing alone on the harbor dock, she feels devastated he has broken his promise to meet her. She and another war bride plunge ahead and travel together by train to Louisiana. After two decades in America, Gigi is a twice-divorced, penniless mother of five sons. At forty years of age, she feels at the lowest point of her life.
However, she is about to enter a serendipitous period of her life. She renovates and opens a small, elegant bar for executive types in downtown Lafayette.
Business is tepid until three gay boys spread the word that a beautiful French lady has a Parisian-style bar that welcomes gay people. Add three saucy drag queens to the mix and the bar becomes the hottest ticket between Houston and New Orleans. Gigi needs a right-hand man. She hires a handsome, disabled, gay veteran, Clarence, who becomes her soul mate. She moves to a new location that accommodates six-hundred people and expands the cabaret shows. The club’s success attracts the attention of a powerful man with unbridled ambition to become Louisiana’s next governor. He vows to shut down the popular nightclub and run Gigi out of Lafayette by any means, even murder.
Madame Gigi, the sequel, is a mesmerizing read that takes the reader on a page-turning journey of the unique culture of south Louisiana
The second book of the Gigi series is based on the life of Gisèle “Gigi” Carriton. The two books of the Gigi Series will resonant long after the final page is read.
Since 2012, Dennis has been intensively writing and editing two novels, Mademoiselle Gigi and Madame Gigi. The two books, published by the University of Louisiana Press’ fiction imprint, Sans Souci Books, comprise the Gigi series. The books were a labor of love that pays tribute to his late friend, Gisèle “Gigi” Carriton.
He has often said that he can’t believe he’s written two novels, a full-length play, Chez Gisèle, and incubating a third book in the series since he first met a funny, beautiful French lady at a restaurant in Breaux Bridge in 2001.
He hopes a wide audience of readers will read the series and they will fall in love with Gigi as he did so long ago. Here’s a brief summary of both books. Please consider telling your friends about the Gigi series. Word of mouth buzz is the best advertising. Happy reading!
This past year, I have been privileged to present, with documentary filmmaker, Bonnie Friedman, our historic, related artwork, Mademoiselle Gigi and Operation Sussex. Bonnie and I felt compelled to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Allied D-Day invasion, June 6, 1944, and the end of World War II, May 8, 1945. It is our intention to honor the men and women whose sacrifice won the war for the Allies. In the past year, we have presented at cultural centers, museums, literary cafés, churches, and libraries from Atlanta to Lafayette. We conclude our yearlong tour at the Alliance Française of New Orleans, Friday, May 8, 2015. World War II ended with the unconditional surrender of the Axis powers on May 8, 1945, which is known as VE day: Victory in Europe.
I open our program with a discussion of my historical novel, Mademoiselle Gigi, based on the true story of Gisèle “Gigi” Carriton. My book recounts Gigi’s early life as a young Jewish girl struggling to survive the Nazi occupation of France. Gigi and her family lived in a lowly garden shed for four years on the edge of Lyon, France. Continue reading Remembering VE Day, May 8, 1945→
The play and the book celebrate the life of Gisele “Gigi” Carriton. I have to think Gigi is in heaven, smiling. Thank you Rick Rowan for your fantastic, artistic vision of my play. You and the cast have taken it to a new level. Last night, the guest
audience at dress rehearsal laughed, cried, and hooted and hollered their approval. Thank you Ted Richard for all your hard work as producer and the PRIDE festival for choosing and supporting my play and book about Gigi’s life. I know we’re going to have an awesome three-week run and my heart overflows with happiness at the goodness my artistic endeavor has brought to fruition.
Yesterday, I had the honor of being a guest on Cheryl Castille’s show, The Exchange.
We discussed my journey as an artist/writer and the incredible, fortuitous luck I have had as an author of plays, books, short stories, and poems. Please click on the link below to hear my interview by Cheryl Castille on the KRVS radio show, The Exchange.
Click play to watch interview with Dennis Ward, Playwright, about his play “Chez Gisele.” A play about the life of Gisele Carriton.
Dennis Ward Playwright of “Chez Gisele” Performing At Cite dis Arts And Ted A. Richard Vice-President of Acadiana PRIDE Festival And Producer of “Chez Gisele” With Host Linda Boudreaux On The Extra Mile Show
The inaugural Acadiana PRIDE Festival celebrates the life of a Lafayette legend, Gisele “Gigi” Carriton, with a March 27-April 11 production run of Dennis Ward’s play, Chez Gisele, at the Cité des Arts Theater. A special premier night, Thursday, March 27, 2014, will feature the novelist and playwright, Dennis Ward, discussing the life of Gigi, his writing journey, and signing copies of his latest novel, Mademoiselle Gigi.
The late Gisele “Gigi” Carriton (1928-2008) is a beloved, historical figure in the Acadiana community. She was owner of the first gay, cabaret nightclub in the decades 1960-1970. In an era of emerging gay rights, Ms Carriton provided not only a place of entertainment, but her nightclub was a safe haven from discrimination and persecution for her gay friends. Gigi even took the extraordinary measure of sheltering gays in her home who had been abandoned by their families. Dennis Ward’s award winning play, Chez Gisele, is a portrait painting of those years and will have its third production since 2010.
Who was this French woman who married a Cajun soldier after World War II in Paris? She was the only child of an upper class financier of the early aviation industry in France and lived quite comfortably before the war in a lavish apartment in an area of Paris known as Les Gobelins. Her Jewish family had immigrated to France at the turn of the 20th century during the time of the pogroms in Russia. Dennis Ward’s first novel in the Gigi series, Mademoiselle Gigi, recalls Gigi’s struggle as a young Jewish girl struggling to survive the Nazi occupation of France. The novel is set in France from 1940-1946 and is the first volume of the Gigi series. Fast forward twenty years later, the same Gigi finds herself the owner of the infamous gay cabaret nightclub, Chez Gisele, championing the cause of her gay friends.
Dennis Ward is proud and humbled the inaugural Acadiana PRIDE Festival chose to open the festival with his stage play, Chez Gisele. The honor confirms the petite French lady, Gisele “Gigi” Carriton, will always be a part of Lafayette gay history. For further details or tickets, contact Cite des Arts Theater at 337-291-1122 or online at citedesarts.org.