Little Rock Culture Vulture

Cultural events, places and people in the Little Rock area


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Studio Show series of Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre launches with THE UGLY DUCKLING

aac ct ss UglyDuckling_posterThis year, the Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre features three Studio Shows in addition to its mainstage shows.  Up first, The Ugly Duckling, Aug. 28-Sept. 6, 2015.

Devised and directed by Katie Campbell, The Ugly Duckling is a reimagining of the classic fairytale by Hans Christian Andersen. It follows a young girl as she embarks on a journey of self-discovery and personal transformation. This shadow play unfolds with three actor-puppeteers, two overhead projectors, nearly 100 paper puppets.

“The striking and graphic simplicity of the paper cutting along with the inherently cinematic quality of overhead projector puppetry lays the aesthetic foundation for the production,” Campbell said. “There is no dialogue as the narrative unfolds entirely in the visual language of puppetry and the emotional topography of music.”

Campbell, a North Carolina native, made her home in Little Rock eight years ago when she became a company member with the Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre. The Ugly Duckling stemmed from a thesis project as she pursed an MFA in directing theatre for young audiences at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

“It happened out of necessity—I needed a story that could be told with very few actors and a minimalist set in order to share a tour van with another student,” Campbell said. “But I believe in the story so much. I love telling stories of personal transformation, so it was a natural fit for me to reimagine Andersen’s classic but to adapt it from my personal life lens.”

After touring in North Carolina, Campbell contacted the AACCT to gauge their interest in her show. “There’s never been a single idea that Brad [Bradley Anderson, AACCT artistic director] has said ‘no’ to,” Campbell said. “He and the Arts Center are just so supportive and encouraging of anyone with artistic ambition.”

Before the show could begin at the AAC Children’s Theatre, Campbell needed to find new music since the University of North Carolina at Greensboro owned the rights to the original scores. Enter the Jim Henson Foundation.

The Ugly Duckling was the recipient of a 2015 Jim Henson Foundation Family Grant which celebrates innovation and excellence in puppetry. The grant allowed Campbell to approach Jessica Drake Mosher to compose and arrange new, original music.

The two met through a mutual friend on Facebook, and after only a few months of comparing notes, the ensemble was complete. Mosher’s music will be performed live by a 15-piece ensemble from the Arkansas Symphony Youth Orchestra, directed by Geoffrey Robson.

“I have long been interested in collaborating with the Arkansas Arts Center and this is a wonderful opportunity for a first collaboration,” said Robson, associate conductor for the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra.

“I was even more excited that Katie was commissioning new music to be written for this production,” Robson said. “It is always a thrill to be involved in a world premiere, and to give students the opportunity to work with a living composer. Performing a piece of music for the first time is a unique learning experience, and it is a thrill that all of this is happening as the Arts Center kicks off its Studio Series.”

“This is a true collaboration of arts organizations,” Campbell said. “I just consider myself a caretaker of this project because it would not have been possible without any of them.”

After the 36-minute show, the audience is invited to participate in a hands-on demonstration of the shadow puppetry process.

The Ugly Duckling is presented by The Philip R. Jonsson Foundation and sponsored by the Jim Henson Foundation. The 2015/2016 season of the Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre is sponsored by: Presenting Sponsor, Arkansas BlueCross Blue Shield; Fall Season Sponsor, Centennial Bank; Spring Season Sponsors, The Fine Arts Club of Arkansas and Dr. Loren Bartole, ‘Family Foot Care’; Additional Support Provided by The Morris Foundation and Media Sponsor, Little Rock Family Magazine.

Show times: Fridays at 7 p.m., Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m.

Ticket prices: $10 General admission, $8 for Arkansas Arts Center members


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Arts Center Children’s Theatre Main Stage Season for 2015-2016

aac_logo_childrens_theatreRecognized by The Drama League as one of the best regional theatre companies in America, the Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre is the only professional company in Arkansas that produces children’s literary works for the stage. Since 1979, Children’s Theatre has been creating exceptional theatre for family audiences. Well-loved contemporary stories and classic tales come to life with fantastic characters, brilliant lighting, colorful costumes and a little magic in our fully-staged productions.

The 2015-2016 season, presented by Arkansas BlueCross BlueShield, will feature six Main Stage shows: Puss in Boots; The Legend of Sleepy Hollow; The Gingerbread Man; The 13 Clocks; Schoolhouse Rock Live! and The Adventures of Peter Rabbit.

 

The Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre is dedicated to the creation and presentation of high quality adaptations and original plays for young people and their families. Inspired by classic and contemporary sources, these works provide an honest, relevant and challenging artistic experience for our audiences throughout the state. It is our purpose to cultivate a nurturing and educational environment where performing artists and audience members alike can discover, learn and grow.

“Pay What You Can” tickets are available for the 7 p.m. Thursday preview performance of each Main Stage production. Tickets must be purchased in person at the Arkansas Arts Center (501 E. 9th St.) from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. at the Stephens Inc. Visitors Center, Atrium Level, or from 6-6:45 p.m. at the Children’s Theatre Box Office, Lower Lobby Level. The minimum ticket price is $1.00 per ticket, with a maximum ticket purchase of six tickets per person. Additional tickets can always be purchased in person, online or by phone at regular ticket pricing.

Theatre doors open 30 minutes prior to show for seating.

The 2015/2016 season of the Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre is sponsored by: Presenting Sponsor, Arkansas BlueCross Blue Shield; Fall Season Sponsor, Centennial Bank; Spring Season Sponsors, The Fine Arts Club of Arkansas and Dr. Loren Bartole, ‘Family Foot Care’; Additional Support Provided by The Morris Foundation and Media Sponsor, Little Rock Family Magazine.

 

MAIN STAGE SHOWS

 Puss in Boots

 September 18 – October 4, 2015

 Show times: Fridays at 7 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m.

 Ticket prices: $12.50 General admission, $10 for Arkansas Arts Center members, $10 per person for groups of 10 or more (Children 2 years of age and under are free, however the child must remain in an adult’s lap at all times.)

 Best enjoyed by all ages.

Based on Charlie Perrault’s world famous feline fun-time fairytale, Puss in Boots is an electric story set in song and dance. Be amazed as swashbuckling Puss the Cat raises his master, Claude, from a down-and-out miller’s son to the heights of happiness. Enjoy all the madcap fun as Puss brandishes, not his sword, but his superior feline intellect to conquer kings and ogres (and even a few rabbits along the way). It’s all about brain over brawn. Oh, and you’ll just love his shoes. Adapted by Keith Smith from the fable by Charles Perrault.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit ArkansasArtsCenter.org/theater

 

 The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

 October 23 – November 8, 2015

 Show times: Fridays at 7 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m.

 Ticket prices: $12.50 General admission, $10 for Arkansas Arts Center members, $10 per person for groups of 10 or more

 Best enjoyed by third grade and up.

Ichabod Crane is the newly-hired schoolmaster of Sleepy Hollow, a superstitious little community in New York’s Hudson Valley, 1790. He persistently professes his disbelief in all things supernatural—until the night of Katrina Van Tassel’s Halloween Frolic, that is. Riding home that evening, Ichabod comes face to face—so to speak—with Sleepy Hollow’s most feared and famous ghost.

Be swept along on this wild midnight ride of a story with the gremlins, ghosts and galloping headless horsemen which haunt this American Halloween classic—Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Adapted by Frederick Gaines from the story by Washington Irving.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit ArkansasArtsCenter.org/theater.

 

 The Gingerbread Man

 December 4-20, 2015

 Show times: Fridays at 7 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m.

 Ticket prices: $12.50 General admission, $10 for Arkansas Arts Center members, $10 per person for groups of 10 or more

 Best enjoyed by all ages.

Grandma Tic and Grandpa Toc couldn’t be more surprised (or pleased) when the Gingerbread Man springs to life and dances around their little clock shop. He’s a happy little cookie man made of ginger and molasses. But when the sly, hungry Fox comes along, playtime is over and the race is on!

You won’t want to miss this wild, wacky holiday adventure, so strap on your sleigh-bell-Nikes and run, run as fast as you can. You can’t catch him! He’s the Gingerbread Man! By Keith Smith.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit ArkansasArtsCenter.org/theater.

 

 The 13 Clocks

 January 29 – February 14, 2016

 Show times: Fridays at 7 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m.

 Ticket prices: $12.50 General admission, $10 for Arkansas Arts Center members, $10 per person for groups of 10 or more

 Best enjoyed by third grade and up.

Enjoy this whimsically impossible fantasy quest from the ever-surprising, always entertaining imagination of James Thurber. Prince Zorn attempts to rescue Princess Saralinda from her uncle, the Duke of Coffin Castle. To do so he must complete an impossible task: He must deliver 1,000 jewels to the Duke just as the 13 castle clocks strike five o’clock. There’s just one problem: the clocks in Coffin Castle haven’t worked in seven years. Adapted by Keith Smith from the book by James Thurber.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit ArkansasArtsCenter.org/theater.

 

 Schoolhouse Rock Live!

 March 4-25, 2016

 Show times: Fridays at 7 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m.

 Spring Break matinees: March 22-25 at 2:00 p.m.

 Ticket prices: $12.50 General admission, $10 for Arkansas Arts Center members, $10 per person for groups of 10 or more

 Best enjoyed by all ages.

“Just a Bill,” “Conjunction Junction,” “Zero, My Hero,” “Interplanet Janet,” “Three is a Magic Number,” —and the beat goes on! Every song in this live musical performance of the classic, Emmy Award-winning cartoon series Schoolhouse Rock is sure to please.

Packing plenty of giggles, gasps, and outright laughs, this show makes grammar, science, math, history, and citizenship a delight to learn. And while the cartoon may be decades old now, this fresh live-theatre adaptation will spark the wide-eyed wonder of new discovery in our youngest generation while inviting smiles of toe-tapping, lip-synching nostalgia from the rest of us. It may be a fun-filled romp of color, comedy, music and movement, but the word of the day is still learning.Originally adapted and produced for the stage by Theatre Bam; From the series created by George Newall and Tom Yohe and based on an idea by David McCall; Book by Scott Ferguson, George Keating and Kyle Hall; Music and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, Bob Dorough, Dave Frishberg, Kathy Mandry, George Newall and Tom Yohe.

Schoolhouse Rock Live! is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI). All authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI. 421 West 54th Street, New York, NY 10019 Phone: 212-541-4684 Fax: 212-397-4684 www.MTIShows.com

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit ArkansasArtsCenter.org/theater.

 

 The Adventures of Peter Rabbit

 April 22 – May 8, 2016

 Show times: Fridays at 7 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m.

 Ticket prices: $12.50 General admission, $10 for Arkansas Arts Center members, $10 per person for groups of 10 or more

 Best enjoyed by all ages.

Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail and Peter Rabbit are bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and ready to romp. But before sending them off to explore the wide-wide world, Mother Rabbit gives each of her little ones a kiss and a pinch and a stern word of warning: “My dears, you may run and play in the fields or by the brook or down the lane, but whatever you do, don’t go into Mr. McGregor’s garden.” And so begins a day of mischief and adventure for one naughty little bunny—Peter Rabbit.

Featuring the charming and memorable songs of company composer, Lori Isner, this sweet little musical is a garden feast for eyes and ears of any size! Adapted by Keith Smith from the stories of Beatrix Potter.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit ArkansasArtsCenter.org/theater.

(Posters for the MainStage shows created by David Hohn, with the exception of Schoolhouse Rock Live!)


Go to the “Suggin Territory” at Historic Arkansas Museum

Graham-promoIn this heat, it is nice to be able to travel to a different time and place in the comfort of air conditioning.  Historic Arkansas Museum’s current exhibit “SUGGIN TERRITORY: THE MARVELOUS WORLD OF FOLKLORIST JOSEPHINE GRAHAM” offers a chance to visit a bygone era in Arkansas.

Josephine Graham (1915-1999) a.k.a. “Josus,” was a celebrated artist and folklorist of Arkansas’s White River culture. Her “Suggin” folk paintings depict the Depression-era folk history of the White River region.

Though professionally trained as a painter at Columbia University, Graham’s paintings are intentionally primitive in style, inspired by the stories and lives of “Suggins,” a playful term she used in reference to the people living along the White River.

Through more than twenty exhibitions, over 100 paintings, and a self-published cookbook, she shared the wonder and charm of her native region with the world. Graham was a founding member of the Mid-Southern Watercolorists and founder of the Suggin Folklife Society.

The exhibition continues through November 29, 2015.


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August 9 is National Book Lover’s Day

bldAugust 9 is National Book Lover’s Day (or Book Lovers Day or Book Lovers’ Day — take your pick).

However you punctuate it, today is a day for those who love to read.  It is set aside to encourage you to kick back and relax with a great book. From shaded spots under arching trees to being tucked up warm in bed, there’s no better way to celebrate today than to while the hours away lost in a book.

A few years ago Huffington Post offered these suggestions as activities for this “holiday.” I’ve annotated them with thoughts of my own.

1) Visit your local library (bonus points if you hum “A Trip to the Library” or “Marian, Madame Librarian” when you do)

2) Reread an old favorite (CliffsNotes don’t count-except for Faulkner because Mala Rogers said it was okay.)

3) Drop some literary references (commiserate a sports loss with a “there is no joy in Mudville;” describe something tiny as Lilliputian; express frustration with “Fiddle dee dee”)

4) Get a new bookshelf (or build one.  or get a book about how to build one.)

5) Give the gift of reading (read to someone — just make sure it is age appropriate — the original Grimm Folk Tales are not intended for pre-school audiences)

6) Hit up a literary haunt (Jay Jennings can probably suggest several Arkansas locations, or you can go to the Capital Bar–many journalists have scribbled notes on napkins there which have made there ways into political books)

7) Host your own book club (or crash your neighbor’s)

8) Host a book lovers party (or tell people you went to one dressed as the Invisible Man–either Wells or Ellison version)

9) Contact your favorite living author (just make sure there isn’t a restraining order because you already have tried this.  repeatedly. at inappropriate locations and times)

10) Donate (it does seem a sin to throw away a book. so pass it on)

 

So visit the Central Arkansas Library System or WordsWorth Books.  Make a pilgrimage to Piggott to see where Hemingway wrote part of A Farewell to Arms (which my classmates and I dubbed A Farewell to Leg because of the line, “I put my hand on my knee, it wasn’t there.”).  Crack open that book at home.  Go down a rabbit hole in search of your Green Light, your Dulcinea, or your Holy Grail.

For younger audiences, chew on a board book, marvel at a pop-up book, experience a scratch ‘n’ sniff book.

Whatever you do today, don’t let it go by without touching a book!  (Episcopalians have it covered with the BCP.)


The CALS Potter Marathon ends with HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, PART 2 at 7pm tonight

RRT HP 0801 2It all comes down to this as the Central Arkansas Library System’s (CALS) Ron Robinson Theater’s (RRT) Harry Potter Movie Marathon shows Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, Part 2 tonight at 7pm.

In the epic finale, the battle between the good and evil forces of the wizarding world escalates into an all-out war. The stakes have never been higher and no one is safe. But it is Harry who may be called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice as he draws closer to the climactic showdown with Lord Voldemort. It all ends here

David Yates directed this 2011 film, his fourth in the series.  Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Maggie Smith, and Michael Gambon return to Hogwarts for this film.

The cast also featured Ralph Fiennes, Alan Rickman, Domhnall Gleeson, Clémence Poésy, John Hurt, Helena Bonham Carter, Jason Isaacs, Helen McCrory, Tom Felton, Ciarán Hinds, Matthew Lewis, Afshan Azad, Freddie Stroma, Katie Leung, Bonnie Wright, Ralph Ineson, Jim Broadbent, Scarlett Byrne, Josh Herdman, Miriam Margolyes, Gemma Jones, David Thewlis, Julie Walters, Mark Williams, James Phelps, Oliver Phelps, Chris Rankin, David Bradley, Guy Henry, Nick Moran, Natalia Tena, Emma Thompson, Geraldine Somerville, Adrian Rawlins, Toby Papworth, Timothy Spall, Robbie Coltrane, and Gary Oldman.

The screening of all eight movies from Sunday, July 26 – Saturday, August 1 celebrates Harry Potter’s July 31 birthday. Special Harry Potter-themed concessions, activities, and prizes are part of the festivities at 100 River Market Avenue.

Tickets are $7 each for single tickets. Concessions will be available for purchase at every showing, and beer and wine are available at screenings scheduled after 5 p.m.

Some planned activities for movie-goers include being sorted into Hogwarts houses, competing for House Cup points, photo booths, and a horcrux scavenger hunt. Unique treats include candy from Kilwin’s and magical ice cream from Loblolly Creamery. Doors open and activities begin one hour before show time.

If you have seen one or all 8, be sure and use #CALSPotterMarathon on social media.


Final Day of CALS Potter Marathon starts with HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, PART 1

RRT HP 0801 1The end is near as the Central Arkansas Library System’s (CALS) Ron Robinson Theater’s (RRT) Harry Potter Movie Marathon starts today with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 this afternoon at 1pm.

Part 1 begins as Harry, Ron and Hermione set out on their perilous mission to track down and destroy the secret to Voldemort’s immortality and destruction – the Horcruxes. On their own, without the guidance of their professors or the protection of Professor Dumbledore, the three friends must now rely on one another more than ever. But there are Dark Forces in their midst that threaten to tear them apart. Harry’s only hope is to find the Horcruxes before Voldemort finds him.

David Yates directed this 2010 film, his third in the series.  Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, and Michael Gambon return to Hogwarts for this film.

The cast also featured Bill Nighy, Richard Griffiths, Harry Melling, Julie Walters, Bonnie Wright, Ian Kelly, Michelle Fairley, Fiona Shaw, Alan Rickman, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter, Helen McCrory, Jason Isaacs, Tom Felton, Timothy Spall, David Ryall, Robbie Coltrane, Brendan Gleeson, James Phelps, Oliver Phelps, Mark Williams, Domhnall Gleeson, Clémence Poésy, David Thewlis, John Hurt, Frances de la Tour, Rhys Ifans, Matthew Lewis, Freddie Stroma, Afshan Azad, Imelda Staunton, Toby Jones, Sophie Thompson, Kate Fleetwood, Adrian Rawlins, Geraldine Somerville and Miranda Richardson

The screening of all eight movies from Sunday, July 26 – Saturday, August 1 celebrates Harry Potter’s July 31 birthday. Special Harry Potter-themed concessions, activities, and prizes are part of the festivities at 100 River Market Avenue.

Tickets are $7 each for single tickets. Concessions will be available for purchase at every showing, and beer and wine are available at screenings scheduled after 5 p.m.

Some planned activities for movie-goers include being sorted into Hogwarts houses, competing for House Cup points, photo booths, and a horcrux scavenger hunt. Unique treats include candy from Kilwin’s and magical ice cream from Loblolly Creamery. Doors open and activities begin one hour before show time.

On Saturday the final two films will be shown at 1pm and 7pm.

If you see one or all 8, be sure and use #CALSPotterMarathon on social media.

 

 


Little Rock author Frank Thurmond book signing today at That Bookstore in Blytheville

Thurmond photo1Little Rock author-filmmaker-actor-musician Frank H. Thurmond will have a book signing for his latest work Ring of Five: A Novella and Four Stories, published by Et Alia Press.  It will take place today (August 1) from 1pm to 3pm at That Bookstore in Blytheville.
 
In this historically grounded thriller, Ring of Five recounts the Cold War intrigue of real-life British master spy Kim Philby, the inspiration behind Ian Fleming’s James Bond.  When the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) discovers a mole is betraying deadly secrets to the enemy, it assigns its best agent to investigate.  But what if this spy hides a shocking secret of his own and the investigator becomes the investigated? This riveting story is a thrilling and timely adventure blending espionage, politics, and love and betrayal.
 
Of Thurmond’s book, actor Michael York, whose films include Cabaret and Austin Powers and who is author of Accidentally on Purpose, states, “I’m enormously impressed with Ring of Five. It is a beautifully constructed story that holds the attention—and the tension—to the end. This is all the more laudable as it’s a known story, but Thurmond makes the historical facts come dramatically alive. Ring of Five is a most engrossing and enjoyable read. ” 
 
Thurmond learned of the story while living and studying in Oxford, England where he was intrigued to hear of the so called “Cambridge Spies,” known as the most notorious double agents of the Cold War era.
 
Thurmond was born in Paragould and grew up in Crossett and Little Rock, where he attended Hall High School.  He studied English and music as a Donaghey Scholar at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and pursued graduate degrees at Southern Methodist University and Oxford University. Thurmond is a Visiting Assistant Professor of English at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and is a visiting writer in residence at Lyon College in Batesville.
 
Thurmond’s first book was a memoir entitled Before I Sleep: A Memoir of Travel and Reconciliation, which recounts his adult experience of meeting his previously unknown birth father.  It was featured in the 2014 KUAR’s Arts & Letters Father’s Day special, which is available on KUAR.org.
           
Previously, Thurmond’s work has appeared in various publications, including the International Herald Tribune; The Best of Tales from the South, Volume 6; Toad Suck Review; and in William Safire’s language book, No Uncertain Terms.
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