Little Rock Culture Vulture

Cultural events, places and people in the Little Rock area

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Legacies & Lunch Looks at “The Way It ‘Wuz’ Back Then”    

Lonoke County native Aretha Dodson attended segregated public schools and worked for the same school district during and after integration. She details these experiences in her memoir, That’s the Way It “Wuz” Back Then, which she will discuss at Legacies & Lunch, the Butler Center’s monthly lecture series, on Wednesday, March 4, noon-1 p.m., in the Main Library’s Darragh Center, 100 Rock Street. Books will be available for purchase, and Dodson will sign copies after her talk.

Dodson is a school improvement educational consultant who worked nearly forty years for the Lonoke public schools. That’s the Way It “Wuz” Back Then uses Dodson’s experiences, interviews she conducted, and clippings from the Lonoke Democrat to depict “the hardship and suffering of black families during the early twentieth century, segregated schools in the South, and the unrest experienced in the South during the desegregation of schools.”

Legacies & Lunch is free, open to the public, and sponsored in part by the Arkansas Humanities Council. Attendees are invited to bring a sack lunch; drinks and dessert are provided. For more information, call 501-918-3033.

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A Year Long Party for Arkansas Rep 40th Season

The 2015-2016 season is the 40th one for the Arkansas Repertory Theatre. The audience gets the gifts.

The season kicks off with William Shakespeare’s Scottish play about the Thane of Cawdor and his wife Lady M. It will run September 11-27.

Next up is the Tony winning musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. This tuneful, witty musical with book by Rachek Sheinkin and songs by William Finn, will play from October 16 to November 8.

Disney’s The Little Mermaid will be the holiday show running from December 4 to January 3.  It will be a regional premiere of this musical featuring a book by Pulitzer and Tony winner Doug Wright and a score by the Oscar winning team of Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, with additional lyrics by Glenn Slater.

2016 will start off with another regional premiere–Peter and the Starcatcher.  This prequel to the Peter Pan stories is by Rick Elice. Though a play, it does have some songs by Wayne Barker and Elice.  This winner of  five Tony Awards will be on stage from January 15 to February 7.

The regional theatre premiere of The Bridges of Madison County will take place on the Arkansas Rep stage from April 8 to May 1.  This musical has a Tony winning score by Jason Robert Brown and a book by Pulitzer and Tony winner Marsha Norman.

The main stage season will conclude with a world premiere play Windfall.  Directed by Tony winner Jason Alexander, this comedy by Scooter Pietsch looks at greed among a group of office workers.  It will run from June 10 to 26.

The Rep also has three special offerings during the 2015-2016 year.

From February 11-14, Rebecca Wells, author of the “Ya-Ya Sisterhood” novels will present a one-woman show about the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.

The Summer Musical Theatre Intensive production will be called Broken Wings and will play from March 1-12 of 2016.

From May 3-15 the Second City will return to Little Rock for Second City: Hooking Up. 

The Rep’s 40th season features comedy, tragedy and musicals spanning from Elizabethan times to world premieres.  It truly is a showcase of the Rep’s mission and the breadth and depth of the Rep’s commitment to bringing great stories to life for Little Rock audiences.

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Celebrate Dr. Seuss’s Birthday with Read Across America Day

Oh, the places you’ll go when you read!

Celebrate Dr. Seuss’s birthday and the National Education Association’s (NEA) Read Across America Day with the Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) and millions of others at events and programs on Monday, March 2 and throughout the week.

On Monday, March 2, from 4-7 p.m., The Cat in the Hat and Pete the Cat will join participants at Park Plaza Mall, 6000 W. Markham Street, for crafts, reading, and fun. Events at branch libraries may be found below. All events are free and open to the public.

  • Main Library
    Dr. Seuss Storytime with Lupe Pena Valadez • Saturday, March 7 • 10:30 a.m.
  • McMath Library
    Dr. Seuss Birthday Bash • Monday, March 2 • 6:00 p.m.
  • Terry Library
    Dr. Seuss Family Night • Monday, March 2 • 6:30 p.m.
  • Thompson Library
    Dr. Seuss Family Night • Thursday, March 5 • 6:30 p.m.
  • Children’s Library
    Dr. Seuss on the Loose Party • Saturday, March 7 • 10:30 a.m.

NEA’s Read Across America Day, which celebrates Dr. Seuss’s birthday and the joys of reading, expects more than 45 million readers, both young and old, to pick up a book and read. The goal is to show America’s children the joy of reading and build a nation of readers.

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March Madness at Central Arkansas Library System

The Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) is throwing a twist into the traditional March Madness bracket. 

Beginning March 1, all CALS branches will be bracketing locations for Heroes and Villains: Character Face-Off, a bracket competition to determine CALS patrons’ favorite literary character. 

The Heroes and Villains bracket includes sixteen characters; eight heroes and eight villains. Each week, patrons may vote for their favorite character at, at any CALS branch, or both. There is no limit to how many times participants can vote. 

During the week of March 2-March 8, patrons can try to predict the ultimate winner of the Heroes and Villains: Character Face-Off bracket competition for a chance to win a $100 VISA gift card.

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Shakespeare Scene Festival at UALR today and Friday

The 2015 Shakespeare Scene Festival will be held in UALR’s University Theater in the Center for Performing Arts on Thursday and Friday, Feb. 26 and 27.

shakespeare scene

The festival, held from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. both days, is free and open to the public.

The Shakespeare Festival brings students from central Arkansas schools to campus to celebrate learning through the performance of Shakespeare.

Approximately 600 students are expected to visit UALR over the two-day the festival and about 300 are expected to perform, with players ranging from fifth graders to high school seniors.

Participating schools include Oak Grove Elementary, Warren Dupree Elementary, Henderson Middle School, Sheridan Middle, J.A. Fair High, Little Rock Central High, Clarendon High School, and Perryville High School.

Sponsored by the UALR Departments of English and Theater Arts and Dance, the festival was founded by Roslyn Knutson in 1998 and inspired by a workshop at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C.

To see a schedule of performances and to find out more about the festival, visit

Questions should be directed to the festival’s director, Dr. Kris McAbee, at 501.569.8312.

Laughter and Lyrics tonight featuring Phyllis Yvonne Stickney

mtcc nps stickneyThe Central High School National Historic Site and Mosaic Templars Cultural Center present a special program tonight.  The program is “Laughter & Lyrics” and stars acclaimed actress, comedienne and author Phyllis Yvonne Stickney.  The event starts at 6:30 pm tonight at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center.

Drawing from the words of some of the leading African American female writers and thinkers in the second half of the 20th Century, Stickney has created an evening of thought provoking spoken word, social commentary, live music, and Conscious Comedy. This 90 minute theatrical presentation will draw on the body works of Nikki Giovanni, Maya Angelou, Ruby Dee and feature excerpts from Beah Richards’ “A Black Woman Speaks.”

Phyllis Yvonne Stickney is a world-class artist, producer, director, author, motivational speaker, clothing designer, community activist, businesswoman and surrogate mother to many. Ms. Stickney is best known and respected for her work in film, stage, television and comedy. Her portrayals range from articulate attorney to feisty comedy club diva, to a Jamaican mother of class. She is regarded as one of the most intelligently hilarious comic talents and was recognized by HBO in THE HISTORY OF BLACKS IN COMEDY. Her film credits include NEW JACK CITY, DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE, HOW STELLA GOT HER GROOVE BACK, THE INKWELL, WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT?, MALCOLM X, and the “ABC Afterschool Special,” DADDY’S GIRL. She made television history by portraying an Afrocentric character on THE COSBY SHOW spinoff, A DIFFERENT WORLD.

She also played Lena in Lorraine Hansberry’s award-winning play A RAISIN IN THE SUN at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre. The play was produced in January 2011 and received great reviews and exceeded box office expectations.


Black History Month Spotlight: Dr. Patricia McGraw

bhm mcgrawDr. Patricia Washington McGraw is an educator and author.  Now retired from the University of Central Arkansas where she was a professor of English and African/African American Studies, McGraw is recognized for her achievements as an educational/civic leader and social advocate.  She has received over 300 teaching excellence and community service awards on the local, state and national levels.

McGraw graduated from San Francisco State College in 1957 and received her master’s degree in special studies in American literature from the college in 1967. In 1982 she earned her Ph.D. in sociolinguistics and Black studies from Washington University in St. Louis. She graduated with honors from each institution.

Despite her status as a retired professor, McGraw remains an active force in her community and abroad. From 1983-1994 she owned and operated The McGraw Learning Institute: Abilities Unlimited, a private school for African-American children. She has served as a literary consultant to two youth groups and has been an African storyteller at various museums throughout Central Arkansas.  She has co-hosted televisions shows and is the creator of a one-woman show, A Profile of Four Black Women: Look Upon Them and Be Renewed, that has received rave reviews and has been performed over 400 times in Africa, the West Indies and Canada.

Dr. McGraw is a noted author having published several books and more than 500 articles and works of poetry. Her work as a humanitarian has taken her to Africa seven times, having visited 18 countries on the continent. In 1999, on Lake Kivu, between the East African countries of Rwanda and the Republic of the Congo, members of the Rwandese Parliament presented an island to her.

She was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2004.  For more on Dr. McGraw and other inductees into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame, visit the permanent exhibit at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center. That museum is an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.


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