It was two weeks ago yesterday that the Arkansas Rep announced suspension of operations. It was a week ago yesterday that the Rally at the Rep was held which raised money and community spirit for the Rep.
Supporters of the Rep have made a good start in donating over $113,000 towards the goal of $750,000. The John & Robyn Horn and Windgate Charitable Foundations have generously extended matching grants to make donated dollars stretch even further. It does not mean the money woes are eliminated. It just means there is a clearer pathway to reaching the goal.
Yesterday was the final day of employment at the Rep for many folks. These are good people. Some grew up here. Others came here to work. All became a part of Arkansas in addition to becoming part of the Arkansas Rep.
A few staff members remain. Even when operations are in suspension, there are still tasks to accomplish.
And excitingly the Rep’s Education Department is continuing its summer programming under the leadership of Anna Kimmell. From June 18 through August 3, there will be a series of age-based sessions for kids ranging in age from kindergarten up to 2018 high school graduates.
The education programming illustrates a key reason the Rep is important. Yes, the final two-week program is geared toward high school kids and offers a conservatory-style training. It is a wonderful opportunity for those who think they might be interested in pursuing a career in the performing arts.
But a key aspect of all the sessions is the use of the performing arts as forms of self-expression. Even if the students never set foot on stage again, they have learned confidence. They have learned arts appreciation. They have learned to respect themselves and others.
This is what theatre does. This is what the arts do.
Last weekend, I was in the Rep’s auditorium for the Ballet Arkansas performance. After it was over, I unexpectedly found myself lingering in the space. I then realized why. I wanted to soak in the atmosphere of the room. So I went up to the lower balcony and walked around. I snapped the photos which accompany this entry.
I hope I am back in the space for a performance in the coming months. But I realized it could be even longer in the future. So I relished the chance to wander around. And wonder about the future.
In the coming weeks, key supporters of the Rep will be working out a vision for the future of the institution. Many tough discussions will be had. Many difficult decisions will be made. What will the future look like? Only St. Genesius probably knows. And as the patron saint of actors and comedians, he is not yet telling.
It is said (though it is likely apocryphal) that the Roman Senator Cato the Elder ended each of his speeches with “Ceterum censeo Carthaginem delendam esse” or some variation. Meaning, of course, Carthage must be destroyed.
Since learning that fact from my mother sometime in elementary school (that’s what happens when your mother is a world history teacher), I have been fascinated by Latin phrases. (When I grow up, I want to be Jed Bartlet who can spout the proper Latin phrase at the right time.)
I especially like the idea of a battle cry in Latin. It somehow seems more forceful.
So I end this entry, and plan on ending future entries about the Rep with the Latin for “Save the Repertory Theatre” (sorry, Arkansas does not translate well into Latin.)
Repertorium Praeter Theatrum