Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Nick Slie, March 10, 2016

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries


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00:00:00 - Personal background

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Partial Transcript: It's September 10th, 2016 and, uh, this is Jeff Keith with Nick Slie here in New Orleans in the French Quarter.

Segment Synopsis: Slie discusses his background and family history. He briefly talks about his interest in art, theater, and social justice as well as starting his business, Mondo Bizarro. Then, he goes on to discuss where he went to college (Louisiana State University) and graduate school (Trinity College in Ireland) and how many aspects of Ireland pointed him back to New Orleans.

Keywords: "Invisible Man"; Acadia; Adulthood; Bo Harrison; Bruce France; Chris Frederick; Elders; Ensemble; French; Frenchie; Graduate schools; Home; Intellectual; Kaiser Aluminum; Louisiana State University; Michael Bowman; Mondo Bizarro; Patricia Suchy; Performance studies; Ralph Ellison; Refineries; Relationships; Rotary Ambassadorial Fellowship; Rotary clubs; Ruth Bowman; Social justice; St. James Parish; Theater; Traits; Trinity College; World War II

Subjects: Art; Artists; Childhood; Culture.; Education, Higher; Families.; Family histories.; Home.; Ireland; Louisiana

00:10:12 - His theater experience during his education

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Partial Transcript: Um, you mentioned "Invisible Man".

Segment Synopsis: Slie discusses the ways he continued to pursue his love for theater throughout the years of his education.

Keywords: "Invisible Man"; Analysis; Equity; Failing; Graduate schools; Hurricane Katrina; Practice; Productions; Professional career; Segregation; Undergraduate

Subjects: Art; Education, Higher; Social justice.; Theater.

00:13:34 - Developing his business / Alternate ROOTS & Appalshop, Inc.

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Partial Transcript: If we could, I'd like to hear, uh--(Slie coughs)--first of all, what--you came back here in 2003?

Segment Synopsis: Slie discusses returning to New Orleans, Louisiana and establishing his business as well as becoming associated with Alternate ROOTS alongside Carlton Turner, Maurice Turner, and Kathy Randels. He talks about meeting members of Appalshop, Inc. through Alternate ROOTS and how that relationship was established.

Keywords: "Catching Him in Pieces"; "Le Petit Prince"; "No Sars on Mars"; "Red Fox: Second Hangin'"; "The Little Prince"; Alternate ROOTS; ArtSpot Productions; Artefuturo Productions; Artist Más; Bible belt south; Carlton Turner; Dog and Pony Theater Company; Donna Porterfield; Dudley Cocke; Everett Maddox; Hurricane Katrina; Joe Carson; John Grimsley; John O'Neil; José Torres-Tama; Kathy Randels; Ku Klux Klan (KKK); Linda Perry; M.U.G.A.B.E.E.; Maurice Turner; Mondo Bizarro; Reputation; Roadside Theater; Ron Short; Self sufficiency; Space; State of the Nation Festival; Summer Solstice Festival; Vulnerability

Subjects: Appalshop, Inc.; Identity (Philosophical concept); New Orleans (La.); Social justice.; Theater.

00:23:23 - Hurricane Katrina / I-10 Witness Project

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Partial Transcript: I want to, uh, kind of ask you about what I know is a difficult topic, but that's, uh--you said the Katrina moment--

Segment Synopsis: Slie discusses the events of Hurricane Katrina and how the artist organization teamed up to perform rescue missions as requested by survivors of the hurricane. He talks about starting the I-10 Witness Project as well as how the work he did surrounding Hurricane Katrina molded his future work.

Keywords: Alternate ROOTS; Center for Digital Storytelling; Collaboration; Environmental conditions; Free Southern Theater; Hurricane Katrina; I-10 Witness Project; Images; John Newell; Levys; National Guard; Niall Watkins; Press passes; Reckoning; Sense of purpose; Shelter; Social movements; Super Dome

Subjects: Artists; Hurricanes; Natural disasters.; Race.; Refugees.

00:32:38 - Teaming up with Appalshop, Inc.

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Partial Transcript: What I want to ask you now is to sort of help take all these things and braid them together in the context of what we were talking about before the camera was running...

Segment Synopsis: Slie discusses collaborating with Appalshop, Inc. and M.U.G.A.B.E.E. and the emotional connections formed between the organizations. He also talks about the common thought within the art world that an artist must be an individual and do only solo work.

Keywords: "Race Peace"; "Survival of the fittest"; Alternate ROOTS; Carlton Turner; Catapult; Collaborations; Collective; Dudley Cocke; Guidance; Individual model; Inspiration; John O'Neil; M.U.G.A.B.E.E.; Memory; Nostalgia; Odin Theater; Risk; Roadside Theater; Wood paneling

Subjects: African American families; Appalshop, Inc.; Art; Artists; Families.; Influence (Literary, artistic, etc.); Theater.

00:40:26 - Clear Creek Festival

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Partial Transcript: Now the, the next thing I want to ask you about is, you know, that's one trip to Appalshop, Letcher County, Appalachia...

Segment Synopsis: Slie discusses the Clear Creek Festival, which he became involved with through Appalshop, Inc. He tells the story of being asked to present his work at the festival and he talks about the connection that he feels to Appalachia.

Keywords: "Race Peace" workshop; Alternate ROOTS; Bell Hooks; Bob Martin; Cajun culture; Clear Creek Festival; Connections; Dudley Cocke; John O'Neil; Kentucky; Louisiana; Mitch Barrett; Mountains; Ron Short; Rougarou

Subjects: Appalachia; Appalshop, Inc.; Artists; Communities.; Theater.; Whitesburg (Ky.)

00:46:47 - American Festivals Project

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Partial Transcript: And that's the American Festival Project.

Segment Synopsis: Slie discusses the American Festivals Project that Dudley Cocke (Appalshop, Inc.) and actor John O'Neil were part of. He talks about the astounding fact that most of the younger generations of artists do not know who many of the important figures in the arts are. He also talks about the unfortunate use of the word 'legacy' and the stigma that follows it.

Keywords: Alternate ROOTS; American Festival Project; American Festivals Project; Arthur Miller; Celeste Miller; Collective; Dudley Cocke; Federal Theater Project; Festivals; Hallie Flanagan; Institutions; John O'Neil; Learning exchange; Legacy; Paul Robeson; Resistance; Roadside Theater; Urban Bush Women; Works Progress Administration

Subjects: Appalshop, Inc.; Artists; Theater.

00:52:06 - His legacy

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Partial Transcript: And that's funny because I just said I had a legacy question...

Segment Synopsis: Slie discusses how he views his work with Appalshop, Inc., Alternate ROOTS, Mondo Bizarro, and Roadside Theater, as well as the legacy he hopes to leave behind. He talks about the need for organizations to run independent of a leader and he also comments on Dudley Cocke's work as a leader.

Keywords: Agenda; Alternate ROOTS; Appalshop, Inc.; Community arts; Dudley Cocke; Hannah Pepper-Cunningham; Hope; Inspiration; Legacy; Mondo Bizarro; Permaculture; Regeneration; Roadside Theater; Social justice; Training

Subjects: Art; Artists; Future.; Theater.