Louisiana Hayride poster with Elvis
Louisiana Hayride poster featuring Elvis

Much has been written and said about The Shape of Shreveport, a 20-part documentary series exploring this region’s history and culture. Unfortunately, most of it has failed to explore the purpose of the series or its potential.

An underlying love for the City shapes the tone and substance of The Shape of Shreveport. Still, each 15-minute standalone episode, while refusing to pull punches, will emphasize Shreveport’s missed opportunities.

For instance, the series will explore the prominence of the Louisiana Hayride, which at one point exceeded the Grand Ole’ Opry in popularity but later collapsed. Similarly, this region failed to build an oil and gas industry centered around the white collar command and control professionals, while Houston, Tx., working with a similar set of resources, experienced one of the largest metropolitan booms of any city in the world.

The true promise of The Shape of Shreveport comes two-fold: it reminds this city of its missed opportunities, while acting as a rallying cry for greater civic and entrepreneurial engagement from its citizenry. The narrative underlying the series suggests our city is on the cusp of greatness.

“Educating [Shreveport residents about its history] is a big deal, because not a lot of people know how to respond about what Shreveport was,” said Executive Producer Jim Broyles. “Another bigger vision for it is to get everybody on the same page of something they can’t really argue about.”

Jim, along with his brother Will, make up the Ring Media Group, and are the Executive Producers of the series. Other local talent includes Producer Chris Lyon of Perennial Media, Clyde Hargrove of local band Hydrogen Child, several historians in SBC including Cheryl White and John Andrew Prime, and East Texas native Writer/Director Chris Charles Scott.

“From the monetary capital to the human capital, they’re all either homegrown or East Texas-grown,” said Scott, adding, “Which is sort of the same thing since Shreveport is the capitol of East Texas.”

The first four episodes (covering Captain Henry Miller Shreve, the Yellow Fever Outbreak of 1873, Elvis and MLK, Jr’s Influence, and the oil and gas crash of the 1980s) will premiere at the historic Strand Theatre Thursday, June 4, 7pm. The debut event will feature a red carpet, meet and greet, Q&A forum, book signings, and kids activities.

As someone born and raised in Shreveport, I see efforts such as The Shape of Shreveport Documentary Series join the wave of fresh water to our corner of the state, alongside the likes of the Louisiana Film Prize, SRAC’s UNSCENE! events, and the Texas Avenue Makers Fair. With so much momentum, how could we not achieve the aforementioned greatness?

Tickets can be purchased here, or by calling the Strand’s box office at (318) 226-8555. All proceeds benefit The Strand Theatre.

Keep up with the Shape of Shreveport’s Facebook page for announcements regarding the remaining 16 screenings.

See the preview below:

 *With contributions by Stayja E. Fox.