Shakespeare 101 Workshop planned by Education at the Rep

Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, people sitting, living room, shoes and indoorIn the immortal words of Cole Porter:

If you can’t be a ham and do Hamlet

They will not give a damn or a damlet

The Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s Education at The Rep program is offering a chance to “Brush Up Your Shakespeare” in a Shakespeare 101 Workshop on Monday, September 9.

The Bard of Avon would doubtlessly be mortified to know that he is often viewed with disdain because most persons exposure to him was in stiflingly dull English classes. There is so much more than just reciting in a sing-song voice “Two house-holds both a-like in dig-ni-teeee…”  (Go back and look at the photo above.  The people are smiling while discussing Shakespeare.)

Learn the basics of The Bard from Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre‘s Artistic Director, Rebekah Scallet. This workshop introduces foundational skills including iambic pentameter and scansion, poetry and prose, and rhetorical devices. Explore Shakespeare’s vocabulary and learn to use the clues found in his punctuation and text to help reveal meaning and intention. A perfect first introduction to working with Shakespeare and heightened text.

Recommended for those who plan to take the Shakespeare Scene Study course without previous experience:

Monday, September 9, from 7 – 9 p.m.
Tuition: $15
Age: Adult
Instructor: Rebekah Scallet

Registration is open for Arkansas Rep fall classes

Image may contain: 6 people, people dancing, people standing, shoes and indoorRegistration is now open for fall classes with the Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s Education Department. Classes run Sept. 9-Nov. 14 for students of all ages and experience levels.

“Whether you’re new to The Rep or continuing your theatre studies, we’ve got something fun for everyone this fall,” said Anna Kimmell, Director of Education. “We create a fun, high-energy creative environment where artists of all ages can learn, discover, and grow.”

Fall classes include training in acting, musical theatre, improvisation, Shakespeare, theatre dance, tap dance and playwriting for students of all ages and abilities. Scholarships are available.

The Rep provides a professional and encouraging environment for artists of all ages and abilities. With new material every semester, classes can be taken multiple times.

Along with Kimmell, faculty members include Matt Boyce, Bridget Davis, Katherine Greer, Leann Hatley, TJ Medel, Brandon Nichols, Rebekah Scallet and Hilary Trudell.

Each year, The Rep reaches more than 7,500 Arkansas students through classes, workshops with guest artists, summer programs, community outreach, and the Student Matinee Program. More than $18,000 in scholarships were awarded in 2017-2018 to students for theatre training at The Rep.

The full class schedule (including class dates and fee costs), online registration and info on teaching artists can be found Available courses include:

Acting and Creative Movement (K-2nd)
In this class, young actors will use their voices, bodies, and imaginations as tools to create new characters, atmospheres, and narrative.

Acting (3rd-5th)
Dive into the foundations of acting technique and improvisation in this fun and collaborative class!

Musical Theatre (3rd-5th)
Discover the fun and fundamentals of musical theatre technique by integrating acting, singing, and simple choreography in the development of Broadway repertoire.

Theatre Dance (3rd-5th)
Learn jazz and theatre basics in this high-energy dance class focusing on Broadway-style choreography.

Theatre Dance (6th-8th)
Learn jazz and theatre basics in this high-energy dance class focusing on Broadway-style choreography.

Acting (6th-8th)
In this class, actors will explore character development skills, delve into text analysis, and learn how to create dynamic relationships on stage through ensemble building.

Musical Theatre (6th-8th)
Build on the fundamentals of musical theatre technique by integrating acting, singing, and basic choreography in the development of a musical revue.

Preach! A Comedy Collage Class (9th-12th)
As media changes, so do the voices that create it. In this youth-centered class, their voices will be tested through an array of forms in comedy that range from improv to spoken word.

Teen Ensemble (9th-12th – Audition Only)
Teen Ensemble is The Rep’s audition-only performance class featuring the top high school-aged singers, dancers, and actors in the area.  Auditions will be held by appointment only on Monday, August 12 from 5-8 p.m. Email for an audition slot.

Theatre Dance (8th – Adult)
Get moving in this fun, high-energy dance class focusing on Broadway-style choreography.

Beginning Tap Dance (8th – Adult)
Make some noise in this introductory course laying the foundation of tap dance technique. (Tap shoes required.)

Intermediate Tap (8th – Adult)
Make some noise in this course that builds upon the foundation of tap dance technique.  This class is not for beginners. Students must have a basic tap dance vocabulary including shuffles, flaps, riffles, paradiddles, drawbacks, etc. (Tap shoes required.)

Shakespeare Scene Study (Adult)
Take a deep dive into Shakespeare text work through this intensive scene study class.  We will cover two plays in the class — As You Like It and Richard III — to give the opportunity to work on both comic and dramatic text.  *Familiarity with using scansion and rhetorical techniques in Shakespeare is required. If no previous experience, please also enroll in the Shakespeare 101 workshop.

Intro to Playwriting (Adult)
Have you ever wanted to write a play but didn’t know where to start? Here’s your chance! Creator of the ACANSA/Rep Ten-Minute Play Showcase, Hilary Trudell, will teach participants the basics of ten-minute playwriting. All completed ten-minute plays will receive an automatic submission into the 2020 Ten-Minute Play Showcase for an opportunity to be produced on a Rep stage! No experience necessary.

Improvisation (Adult)
In this class, students will learn fundamental improvisational skills and how to apply them to their daily lives. Under the philosophy of “Yes! And…,” actors will heighten their ability to listen to understand, build relationships through an “attitude of gratitude,” and enhance their cognitive skills by building a community of support.

Willy Wonka Jr. opens tonight at Arkansas Rep

Image may contain: textA local cast of 39 young actors will present Willy Wonka Jr. on the MainStage at Arkansas Repertory Theatre this summer. The production, which runs June 21-30, is based on the classic tale by Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

“We were amazed by the level of interest and talent at auditions,” said Anna Kimmell, Director of Education at The Rep, who is the production’s director and choreographer. “These students are serious about theatre – many of them plan to pursue acting professionally. Prepare to be ‘wowed’ by their talents.”

Tickets start at $15 and are available at, by phone at (501) 378-0405 or by visiting the Box Office at 601 Main Street in Little Rock.

Willy Wonka Jr. is a musical adaptation of the story about enigmatic candy manufacturer Willy Wonka, who stages a contest by hiding golden tickets in five of his scrumptious candy bars. Whomever comes up with these tickets will win a free tour of the Wonka factory, as well as a lifetime supply of candy. Four of the five winning children are insufferable brats, but the fifth is a likeable young lad named Charlie Bucket. The children must learn to follow Mr. Wonka’s rules in the factory – or suffer the consequences!

“This production features many of the iconic songs from the 1971 film,” Kimmell said. “But we’re also putting our own Rep-spin on this classic by adding imaginative, theatrical elements to the design and staging. It will be a perfect mix of ‘nostalgic’ and ‘new’ to entertain the young and the young at heart.”

The cast includes Lucas Bachus (Grandpa George), Collin Carlton (Charlie Bucket), Jacob Grinder (Augustus Gloop), Izzy Hammonds (Mrs. Bucket), Emla Holsted (Mrs. Beauregarde), Jackson Karl (Phineous Trout), Tania Renee Kelley (Veruca Salt), Caitlyn Olivia Luna (Grandma Josephine), Isabella Nguyen (Violet Beauregarde), Jesse Niswanger (Grandpa Joe), Cabe Parrish (Mrs. Gloop), Corbin Pitts (Mike Teavee), Will Porter (Willy Wonka), Alexandra Powell (Grandma Georgina), Anna Reynolds (Ms. Teavee), William Romain (Mr. Bucket), and Grant Wild (Mr. Salt).

Featured dancers are Sela Booher, Chaelie DeJohn, Amaya Hardin, Caroline Perry, Grace Pitts, and Nate Westerman. The Ensemble includes Eliah Boles, Adelaide Bricker, Emilea Derden, Chelsea Elise Franklin, Robert Gatlin, Alex Harkins, Lauren Lasseigne, Chloe Grace Luna, Betsy McClure, Taylor Moore, Charlie Mulhollan, Emily Pyron, Melody Small, Miles Tillemans, Magnolia Vincent, and Walt Wenger

The design and creative team includes Anna Kimmell, director/choreographer; Mark Binns, musical director; Zachery Ingersoll, assistant director; Mike Nichols, scenic designer; Holly Payne, costume designer; Lynda J. Kwallek, properties designer; Josh Anderson, lighting designer; and Luke Mitchell, sound designer. The production manager is Joshua Marchesi and the production stage manager is Merit Glover. Adrian Griffey is the assistant stage manager.

Learn about Arkansas Rep’s production of WILLY WONKA JR. at noon today at the Clinton School

No photo description available.

The new Arkansas Repertory Theatre production of Willy Wonka Jr. will be the focus of a noontime Clinton School program today (June 20).

The scrumdidilyumptious adventures of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory light up the stage this summer at The Rep. Featuring many of the enchanting songs from the 1971 film, generations of candy lovers will delight in this devilishly delicious adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic tale, brought to life by a company of young artists. Grab your golden ticket to see Willy Wonka Jr.!

The Rep’s Director of Education Anna Kimmell says, “We’re thrilled to showcase the amazing talent of our local young artists and offer both performance and training opportunities for generations to come here at The Rep.”

The production runs June 21 to June 30.

All Clinton School Speaker Series events are free and open to the public. Reserve your seats by emailing or by calling (501) 683-5239

A Rep-trospective

It was one year ago today, on April 24, 2018, that the Arkansas Repertory Theatre announced it was cancelling its last production of the season and suspending operations.

Most of its fans were in shock.  Some had heard rumblings that not everything was copasetic financially.

As supporters worked through the stages of grief, they asked: “How had this happened?” “Is there a path forward?” “What can we do to Save the Rep?”

In the coming days it was confirmed that the situation had not happened overnight. As with many other businesses and people, the Rep had been living off of future proceeds. And when those failed to materialize from ticket sales and donations, something drastic had to be done.

And many things were done.

After the decision to suspend operations and lay off most of the staff (with the remaining staff having no assurances of continued employment come Labor Day), longtime supporters Ruth Shepherd and Bill Rector stepped in as part of a volunteer interim leadership team.  Together with Board members and other supporters they were able to map out a strategy to stem financial losses which gave the organization a modicum of breathing room in order to assess more permanent next steps. (Incidentally, Rector’s father performed much the same function for the Arkansas Arts Center fifty years earlier in 1968 when it had faced a similar situation.)

Rep founder Cliff Fannin Baker stepped in to as interim artistic director to help determine options for moving forward, provided that finances stabilized.

The John & Robyn Horn Foundation approved a challenge grant of $25,000 designated for “General Support” and the Windgate Charitable Foundation provided a challenge grant for $1,000,000, with an initial payment of $75,000 for operating needs. Unlike some challenge grants, Windgate did not withhold payment until the entire $1,000,000 had been raised.

Community leaders including Skip Rutherford and Stacy Sells staged a “Save the Rep” rally which drew hundreds of people to Main Street on a sweltering May evening and raised money for the Rep.

Education offerings continued at the Rep’s annex on Main Street and, in fact, were expanded under the leadership of Anna Fraley Kimmell.

One of the Rep’s problems had been it owned four properties which made it real estate rich, but cash poor.  In August, the Rep sold an apartment building used to house visiting actors.  The sale cut the property debt in half and offered some much-needed financial assets.  Also that month, the biennial Gridiron show pledged all of its proceeds to support the Rep.

Focus groups and community meetings garnered input from patrons throughout Central Arkansas.

Then, just as it appeared the Rep was hitting its stride on the way to renewal, the unthinkable happened.  Baker suffered an aneurysm and died a few days later.  In addition to working on setting the season, he was set to direct the first show of the rebooted Arkansas Rep.

Through grief, the Rep continued to push forward.  In November, the new season was announced. It would be four shows plus a youth show running throughout 2019.  A few weeks later, the Rep’s new leadership was announced.

Tony winning Broadway producer Will Trice, a Little Rock native who acted on the Rep’s stage in the 1990s as a teenager, would become the theatre’s Executive Artistic Director.  While he won’t be in Little Rock as a full-time resident until the summer, he is already on the job as he splits his time between New York City and Little Rock.  The staff is gradually getting built out, as well.

Native Gardens opened last week as the second production of the season (following February’s run of Chicago).

Whither Arkansas Rep in the future?

Long-term financial stability is still a goal, not yet a guaranteed reality.  Finances are in better shape, to be certain.  But the fact remains – theatre is expensive. Even though the Rep has a leaner structure, there are basic levels that cost.  There still is the ever-present balancing act of offering productions that audiences will want to see yet are economically feasible.

The influx of money that was given over the past year must be maintained…and grown. Each year! There is not an apartment building to sell for $750,000 this year.  While there are ticket sales, unlike this time last year, those sales are not pure profit. And the profit margin on musicals is traditionally smaller than on plays.

Audiences cannot lapse into the “Arkansas Rep has reopened, all crises averted” fallacy.  Their attendance, their money, their passion, their excitement, their word of mouth, their money (yes it is that crucial that it bears repeating) is needed.  In non-profit theatre, ticket sales NEVER cover all the costs. This applies to Rep, for certain. And while no dollar amount is too small, moving it forward will require people to increase their investment.

And the Rep’s financial need is not occurring in a vacuum. Major cultural institutions and smaller organizations are also needing financial support.  Area universities are struggling because of declines in student enrollment (due partially to dropping birth rates two decades ago) so they need increased donations to sustain operations. Few large Arkansas-based businesses are able to provide substantial contributions.

When it comes to the Rep and other cultural entities, it cannot be either/or. It must be a both/and mentality.

So…. Where is Arkansas Rep today?

Certainly better off than it was a year ago.

It has defied the odds and come back from the suspension of operations. Many, if not most, theatres that take a pause never resume.

There is a lot of work left to do. But with a collective effort, it is possible.

To quote from Tony Kushner’s Pulitzer Prize winning Angels in America, which the Rep produced in the 1990s, “The world only spins forward. We will be citizens. The time has come. … More Life. The Great Work Begins.”

Rep Brings Neighbors Together for Salsa Night

In the spirit of its next production, Native Gardens, Arkansas Repertory Theatre is bringing neighbors together for a Salsa Night on April 11 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Cranford Co in downtown Little Rock.

At this mix-and-mingle event, guests can learn dance moves from Latin Dance instructors Rick and Sarah Pinedo, enjoy complimentary drinks and snacks, and put their new salsa skills to use on the dance floor. Singles and couples are welcome.

“Latin dance is used during transitions in Native Gardens, so we thought our patrons might have fun trying a little salsa themselves,” said Anna Kimmell, The Rep’s director of education. “Plus, Native Gardens is a play about bringing different groups of people together. We hope this event does that.”

Admission is $5 at the door or free for The Rep’s 601 Club members and $75+ donors.


Thursday, April 11
5:30-7:30 p.m.

Cranford Co.
512 Main St., Little Rock

RSVP encouraged but not required:
Ages 21+ welcome!