Arkansas Visual Artists encouraged to apply for more Downtown Little Rock mural projects

Arkansas visual artists are invited to submit concepts and proposals for two new pieces of public art to be installed in downtown Little Rock this fall.

Downtown Little Rock Partnership released an RFP for each site-specific location. The first location is a roughly 900 square foot wall within the first floor of the parking deck at Scott and 6th Streets. The area is included in Baker’s Alley, behind The Rep on Main Street. The second RFP is for a “selfie wall” in SoMa, located at 112 Daisy Bates Drive.

“We are excited to be able to add two new pieces of public art to downtown Little Rock’s growing collection,” said Gabe Holmstrom, Downtown Little Rock Partnership Executive Director. “With the great response to Jason Jones’s “Playtime” mural at Capitol and Main, we want to keep the creative momentum going. We can’t wait to see what our incredible Arkansas artists come up with.”

The deadline to submit proposals for both locations is September 25. Completion of each art installation is set for October 30. To learn more and to submit applications, artists may visit http://downtownlr.com/pages/public-art/murals/.

These projects are an initiative of Downtown Little Rock Partnership’s Public Spaces subcommittee, which is chaired by Carol Worley. As part of its public art strategy, Downtown Little Rock Partnership is dedicated to collaborating with Arkansas artists to present public art that enhances the city’s imaginative capacity, enlivens neighborhoods, contributes to economic vitality, sparks civic exchange, and enhances community connection.

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Join Arkansas Rep supporters at a Jailhouse Rock Party tonight at Rocktown Distillery

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Four musical legends are coming to Arkansas Rep – Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins – and what better way to celebrate than a with a rock ‘n roll-themed party?

It will take place at Rocktown Distillery located at 1201 Main Street. The party will run from 5:30pm to 7:30pm.

Come out to support The Rep and meet others who are excited to see Million Dollar Quartet this fall!

*Enjoy a special performance by cast member Trent Rowland as Elvis.

*Taste Rock Town’s special $5 cocktail, “The Jailbird.”

*Members of The Rep’s young professionals group, The 601 Club, will receive a coupon for a free tour and tasting at Rock Town.

Elvis Lives – or at least he will be on stage of Arkansas Rep in September with MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

August 16 marks the 42nd anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley.  (Or did he die?  Is he actually living in seclusion with JFK and others?)

In September, Elvis will come back to life as the Arkansas Repertory Theatre presents MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET.

Four musical legends. A one-in-a-million recording session.
On December 4, 1956, in the studios of Sun Records in Memphis, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis gathered to meet with legendary producer Sam Philips. What happened next was pure rock and roll magic.

A casual introduction of Lewis to Perkins unexpectedly evolved into an epic jam session of country, gospel and rock classics, captured on tape but not released until 1981.

With a collection of hit songs that includes “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Great Balls of Fire,” and “Hound Dog,” this Tony Award-winning musical is guaranteed to blow the roof off!

The show, which won a Tony Award and was nominated for Best Musical, was written by Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux.  The Rep’s production is directed by Hunter Foster who played Sam Phillips in the original Broadway cast.
The production opens on September 6 and plays through October 6.

3 shows highlight Arkansas Rep’s Spring 2020 season!

The Arkansas Repertory Theatre, the state’s largest nonprofit professional theatre, has announced its Spring 2020 Season. The new season, which begins in January 2020, marks the first productions selected under the leadership of Little Rock native Will Trice, the Rep’s new executive artistic director.
 
“The season is a trio of productions I think audiences are going to love,” Trice said, adding that in Fall 2020 The Rep will resume a full-season schedule on a school-year calendar. “We’ve got a Tony Award-winning icon in a tour-de-force performance; a visionary adaptation of a contemporary, best-selling novel; and undoubtedly the most fun of the classic musicals.”
 
Trice added: “These are three very different stories, each told in a very different way. But they are all uplifting, entertaining, and can only be experienced live at The Rep. I can’t wait to share this season with my hometown.”
 
The Spring 2020 Season starts with Ann. Written by Holland Taylor, the Rep’s production will star Tony winner Elizabeth Ashley as Texas Governor Ann Richards. Known for her no-holds barred approach, Ann Richards was opinionated and possessed a wicked sense of humor. Taylor’s script captures the essence of Richards. (When Taylor was still developing the play, she appeared at the Clinton School as part of the speaker series.)
 
Ashley, who won a Tony for Take Her, She’s Mine and has been nominated for Barefoot in the Park and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, was most recently on Broadway in The Best Man. It will be directed by her frequent collaborator Michael Wilson. A Drama Desk Award winner, Wilson has directed two Tony nominees for Best Play and two more for Best Play Revival (three of which have starred Miss Ashley.)
 
Ann will run from January 29 to February 16 of 2020.
 
Next on Arkansas Rep’s stage will be The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Based on Mark Haddon’s best-selling novel of the same name, this play by Simon Stephens has won five Tony Awards, six Drama Desk Awards, and seven Olivier Awards, including Best Play from all three. 
 
It tells the story of Christopher, a 15-year-old boy who describes himself as “a mathematician with some behavioral difficulties” who has never ventured alone past his street. Now he is on a mission – an investigative adventure that will upturn the world of his family and community forever.
 
Through innovative design and storytelling, it puts the audience inside Christopher’s mind as together they go on this incredible journey. The production will run from April 1 to April 19.
 
The classic musical Bye Bye Birdie will take the Rep stage in the summer. Written by Michael Stewart, Lee Adams, and Charles Strouse, it takes a comic, tuneful, nostalgic look at rock ‘n roll, the early days of television, teenage love, and family dynamics.
Experience this beloved classic through a fresh, new production directed by Jeff Award-winner and Olivier Award-nominee David H. Bell (Hot Mikado, the Closing Ceremonies of the Atlanta Olympics). When It first appeared, Bye Bye Birdie won four Tony Awards, including Best Musical.
 
It will be on the Rep stage from July 8 through 26 of 2020.
 
Season Subscriptions are on sale at TheRep.org or by calling the Box Office at (501) 378-0405. Subscriptions start at just $96 and are the most economical way to see all of the productions included in the Spring 2020 Season. Single ticket will go on sale four weeks before a show opens.
 
Two productions remain in the Rep’s 2019 season. Million Dollar Quartet opens next month and It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play is the December holiday offering.

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 TheRep.org/Education. 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 akimmell@therep.org 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.

86 years since Ben Piazza was born

He shared the screen with Cher, Tom Hanks, John Belushi, Gary Cooper, Robert DeNiro, Judd Nelson, Liza Minnelli, Ken Howard, Shirley Jones, George C. Scott, Karl Malden, and Walter Matthau.

His stage co-stars included Jane Fonda, Shirley Booth, Dyan Cannon, William Daniels, Uta Hagen, Mercedes McCambridge, and Arthur Hill.

Ben Piazza spent his entire adult life earning money solely through work in the arts. (Except for a very brief, failed stint as a waiter for a few weeks after he graduated from Princeton.)  Few in the acting profession can make that claim.

Actor-director-playwright-author Ben Piazza was born on July 30, 1933, in Little Rock.  Piazza graduated from Little Rock High School in 1951 as valedictorian. He also had starred in the senior play that year (The Man Who Came to Dinner) and edited the literary magazine.

Piazza attended college at Princeton University and graduated in 1955.  While there he continued acting, including an appearance in a Theatre Intime production of Othello.

In February 1958, he starred in Winesburg, Ohio sharing the National (now Nederlander) Theatre stage with James Whitmore, Dorothy McGuire, and Leon Ames. In April 1959, Piazza starred in Kataki at the Ambassador Theatre.  For his performance, Piazza received one of the 1959 Theatre World Awards.

Piazza started the 1960s on Broadway starring at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre in A Second String with Shirley Booth, Jean-Pierre Aumont, Nina Foch, Cathleen Nesbitt, and Carrie Nye.   Following that, he started his association with Edward Albee by appearing as the title character in The American Dream.  That play opened at the York Playhouse in January 1961.  Later that year, he appeared in Albee’s The Zoo Story opposite original cast member William Daniels at the East End Theatre.

In February 1963, he took over the role of Nick in the original run of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? when original actor George Grizzard left to play Hamlet at the Guthrie Theatre.  (He had participated in earlier readings of the play prior to it being mounted on Broadway.)

Piazza played Nick for the remainder of the run and acted with Uta Hagen, Arthur Hill, fellow Arkansan Melinda Dillon, Eileen Fulton, Nancy Kelly, Mercedes McCambridge, Rochelle Oliver and Sheppard Strudwick.

During the run of this show, Piazza’s novel The Exact and Very Strange Truth was published.  It is a fictionalized account of his growing up in Little Rock during the 1930s and 1940s.  The book is filled with references to Centennial Elementary, West Side Junior High, Central High School, Immanuel Baptist Church and various stores and shops in Little Rock during that era.  The Piazza Shoe Store, located on Main Street, was called Gallanti’s.

He appeared with Alfred Drake in The Song of the Grasshopper in September 1967.  In 1968, he returned to Albee and starred in The Death of Bessie Smith and The Zoo Story in repertory on Broadway at the Billy Rose Theatre.

Later that season, in March 1969, his one-acts: Lime Green/Khaki Blue opened at the Provincetown Playhouse.  Throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, Piazza toured in many plays nationally and internationally. As the 1970s progressed, he turned his focus to television and movies.

Piazza’s film debut was in a 1959 Canadian film called The Dangerous Age. That same year, his Hollywood film debut came opposite Gary Cooper, Karl Malden, Maria Schell and George C. Scott in The Hanging Tree.

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, he appeared in a number of TV shows.  He had a recurring role during one season of Ben Casey and appeared on the soap opera Love of Life. In the 1970s, he starred in the films Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon; The Candy Snatchers and I Never Promised You a Rose Garden.  He also starred as the City Councilman who recruits Walter Matthau to coach a baseball team inThe Bad News Bears.

Among his numerous TV appearances in the 1970s were The Waltons, Mannix, Switch, Barnaby Jones, Gunsmoke, Mod Squad and Lou Grant . In the 1980s, he appeared in The Blues Brothers, The Rockford Files, Barney Miller, Hart to Hart, Family Ties, The Winds of War, Dallas, Dynasty, Too Close for Comfort, The A Team, Saint Elsewhere, Santa Barbara, The Facts of Life, Mr. Belvedere, Moonlighting and Matlock.

Piazza’s final big screen appearance was in the 1991 film Guilty by Suspicion.  He played studio head Darryl Zanuck in this Robert DeNiro-Annette Bening tale of Hollywood during the Red scare.

Ben Piazza died on September 7, 1991.

In November 2016, a room at the Robinson Conference Center was dedicated to his memory.