Little Rock Look Back: John Houseman visits Arkansas Arts Center

Image result for john houseman paper chaseOn March 13, 1968, future Oscar winner John Houseman visited the Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock.

Mr. Houseman was here to audition actors for his new acting conservatory at Lincoln Center. Though media accounts did not identify it at the time, this became the new Drama Division of Julliard, which he led until 1976.

He had been aware of Dugald MacArthur’s acting program as part of the Arkansas Arts Center School of Art and Drama.  When he learned that it would be closing in May 1968, Mr. Houseman decided to come to Little Rock to audition actors to be part of his initial 20 member class.  Five actors from the Arkansas Arts Center were chosen to be part of that original class.

Mr. Houseman would again be connected with Arkansas. His Oscar came for THE PAPER CHASE which was directed by University of Central Arkansas alum and Arkansas native, James Bridges. The two had known each other when Bridges worked at Houseman’s UCLA theatre. Bridges recruited Houseman to make the film, his first screen work in decades.

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Rock the Oscars 2019: John Houseman

Image result for john houseman paper chaseIn March 1968, future Oscar winner John Houseman visited the Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock.

Mr. Houseman was here to audition actors for his new acting conservatory at Lincoln Center. Though media accounts did not identify it at the time, this became the new Drama Division of Julliard, which he led until 1976.

He had been aware of Dugald MacArthur’s acting program as part of the Arkansas Arts Center School of Art and Drama.  When he learned that it would be closing in May 1968, Mr. Houseman decided to come to Little Rock to audition actors to be part of his initial 20 member class.  Five actors from the Arkansas Arts Center were chosen to be part of that original class.

After sporadic acting appearances, he was cast in 1973’s The Paper Chase. It was for this performance, as a demanding contract law school professor, that Mr. Houseman won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar.  The film was directed by University of Central Arkansas alum and Arkansas native, James Bridges. The two had known each other from Houseman’s UCLA theatre days. When several name actors declined the role, Mr. Houseman was approached and set up an audition.

Central to Creativity – Charlotte Moorman

tvbra2For 2017’s Arts and Humanities Month, the blog will focus on cultural personalities who are connected with Little Rock Central High School.

Up first – the Topless Cellist, a 1951 graduate.  Charlotte Moorman

Born in Little Rock, at the age of ten she began to study cello.  After graduating from Little Rock high school in 1951, she attended Centenary College.  She undertook subsequent studies at the University of Texas and Julliard.

After spending time with the American Symphony Orchestra, she participated in the experimental art scene including with her friend Yoko Ono.

In 1963 Moorman founded the Annual Avant Garde Festival of New York, which presented the experimental music of the Fluxus group and Happenings alongside performance, kinetic art, and video art. Despite the event’s title the festival was not held annually. There were fifteen festivals from 1963 to 1980.

On February 9, 1967 Moorman achieved widespread notoriety for her performance of Paik’s Opera Sextronique at the Film-Makers Cinematheque in New York City. For this performance, Moorman was to perform movements on the cello in various states of nudity. For the second movement, she played International Lullaby by Max Matthews while wearing a black skirt, but while being topless, and was arrested mid-performance by three plainclothes police officers For her court trial, Moorman and Paik restaged and filmed the first two movements of Opera Sextronique with the filmmaker Jud Yalkut.

In the late 1970s she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She underwent a mastectomy and further treatment, to continue performing through the 1980s in spite of pain and deteriorating health. She died of cancer in New York City on November 8, 1991, aged 57.

 

Black History Month Spotlight: Hazel Shanks Hynson

bhm hazelEducator and Musician Extraordinaire Hazel Shanks Hynson was a renowned educator and an extraordinary musician who through the years trained many accomplished musicians including the late jazz musician Art Porter.

Hynson earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in music, with a major in piano, from Atlanta University. She completed further study in piano, including advanced theory and harmony, with master musicians and instructors hailing from Oberlin College, the University of London and the Julliard School of Music, to cite a few When she moved to Little Rock, Hynson joined Mt. Zion Baptist Church where she served as its pianist for more than 25 years. Through her Hazel Shanks Hynson Music Studio, she presented her students in memorable piano recitals each year with as many as 20 baby grand pianos in use.

Recognized nationally for her outstanding musicianship, Hynson served as pianist for the Arkansas Baptist State Convention for 26 years and for the National Baptist Convention for 27 years. She also served a stint as pianist and choir director for Arkansas Baptist College which awarded Hynson an honorary doctorate in 1990 and named its multi-purpose building in her honor.

A charter and Golden Life member of the Little Rock Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., she was named Delta of the Year in 1992. She is also a charter member of the Little Rock chapter of The Links, Inc.

Known as a grand lady of grace and elegance, a superb teacher and pianist, arranger, composer, and musician’s musician, Hazel Shanks Hynson’s love of music has touched and shaped the lives of people across the globe.

In 2004, she was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame.  For more on Hazel Shanks Hynson 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.

 

Ellis Marsalis in Concert at Wildwood tomorrow

EllisphotoEllis Marsalis, the Father of America’s First Family of Jazz, & his Quartet will be in concert at Wildwood Park for the Arts on Friday, April 19 at 8:00pm.

Tickets range from $15 for students to $100 VIP tickets.

Ellis Marsalis is an internationally known jazz pianist, and a figurehead of the rich and storied New Orleans jazz scene. Marsalis, who has received honorary doctorates from The Julliard School, Tulane University, Dillard University (his alma mater), Ball State University and Virginia Commonwealth University for his contributions to jazz and musical education, served as the Director and Chair of Jazz Studies at the University of New Orleans.

Wildwood-Park-for-the-Arts-e1352227810968Marsalis has also led the jazz department at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, influencing the careers of countless musicians, including film composer Terence Blanchard, Grammy Award-winners Harry Connick Jr. and Nicholas Payton; as well as four of Marsalis’ and wife Dolores’ six sons. Wynton Marsalis (trumpet) and Branford Marsalis (soprano saxophone) have become major players with international reputations. Wynton is the leader of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra in New York. Sons Delfeayo (trombone) and Jason (drums) are also outstanding jazz performers. Delfeayo has produced recordings for his father and his brothers.