A trio of offerings mark 2020 Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre season

Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre (AST) has announced its 2020 season of professional theatre.

“The 2020 season will feature Shakespeare’s delightful comedy ‘As You Like It,’ the beautiful and intriguing musical ‘Into the Woods’ and the hilarious mashup ‘The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged),’” said Mary Ruth Marotte, AST’s executive director.

Performances will take place on the UCA campus, both in Reynolds Performance Hall and outdoors on the lawn of McAlister Hall.

As she prepares for her ninth year as producing artistic director of AST, Rebekah Scallet said she wanted an exciting repertory season that would capture audiences’ imaginations and challenge them to think about their lives. She chose the three shows in the 2020 season based around the theme “Sweet are the uses of adversity,” a line from “As You Like It.”

Actors, directors, designers and crew members will arrive in Conway in early May 2020 to begin the process of creating the three shows in AST’s 14th season.

“We’ll open the season with ‘The Complete Works’ outdoors on the beautiful lawn of McAlister Hall. Our outdoor venue draws huge crowds, and our audiences look forward to the show and the entire experience of Shakespeare under the stars. We hope that theatre-goers in Arkansas and around the region will recognize AST for its dedication to the cultural and artistic growth that is currently underway in our state,” said Marotte.

The remaining two productions will be performed in UCA’s Reynolds Performance Hall.

Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre is the state’s only professional Shakespeare company and is proud to make its home on the UCA campus. Each summer, AST offers full productions of Shakespeare’s works, as well as other plays and musicals that help fulfill AST’s mission to entertain, engage and enrich the community. For more information, visit arkshakes.com or call (501) 852-0702.

AST Tonight – “Performing Shakespeare’s Women” with Paige Martin Reynolds

Paige Martin Reynolds's Profile PhotoThe Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre continues to expand its offerings.

Following the model of other acclaimed and established Shakespeare festivals in the country like Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Utah Shakespeare Festival, Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre is thrilled to offer educational prep sessions, workshops, lectures, and talk-backs to enhance theatregoers’ understanding of the plays produced during our 13th summer season on the campus of UCA.

In utilizing academic leaders, professional actors, and other members of our creative team, we will enrich exploration of themes and ideas in both the Shakespeare plays and in our musical this season as a way to both facilitate reflection and expand understanding of the plays produced at AST during our summer festival. (Sponsored by Conway A&P Commission.)

Their first lecture will be by Paige Martin Reynolds, AST Actor, Artistic Collective Member, and Director of Dramaturgy: “Performing Shakespeare’s Women”
Why might what happens to Shakespeare’s women matter to us today?

Join AST Artistic Collective member Paige Martin Reynolds for a discussion of what is at stake for Shakespeare’s female characters (and the actors who play them), based on her recent book, Performing Shakespeare’s Women: Playing Dead (Bloomsbury Arden, 2019).

It takes place from 5pm to 6pm in the Brewer-Hegeman Conference Center.

THE COMEDY OF ERRORS kicks of 2019 Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre season

AST2019_TheComedyOfErrors_FinalLogo.pngThe Comedy of Errors launches the 2019 season of the Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre.

A tragic shipwreck, two sets of twins divided at birth, mistaken identities, and unrequited love provide the perfect recipe for fun in this Shakespearean farce. The fates bring the brothers and their long-lost father Aegeon together in the land of Ephesus with hilarious results.

Performances started last night (June 7) and continue tonight (June 8), June 9, June 23, June 26, June 29, and July 4. They take place at 7:30pm on the lawn at UCA, across from the President’s House.

The cast includes Paige Reynolds, Chad Bradford, Benjamin Reed, Chris Firtzges, Keith Illidge, Rebecca Brudner, Verda Davenport, Justin Jones, Kyle Clark, Chris Farrell Jr., Corrie Green, Charlotte Mae Ellison, Jack Hradecky, and Saxon Whitehead.

The production is directed by Jack Young.  He is the Artistic Director of Houston Shakespeare Festival, and leads the University of Houston’s MFA Professional Actor Training Program.

Rebekah Scallet is the Producing Artistic Director and Mary Ruth Marotte is the Executive Director.

Tonight at South on Main – the OXFORD AMERICAN presents UCA Jazz I Ensemble with soloist Dr. Patricia Poulter

An Evening with the UCA Jazz I EnsembleThe Oxford American magazine is excited to welcome the University of Central Arkansas Jazz I Ensemble to the South on Main stage, featuring soloist Dr. Patricia Poulter. This event is free and open to the public.

The Jazz I Ensemble is the top jazz ensemble at the University of Central Arkansas and it is directed by Dr. Gail Robertson – Assistant Professor of Tuba and Euphonium/Jazz.

This performance will feature vocalist Dr. Patricia S. Poulter, UCA’s new provost and executive vice president of Academic Affairs. Also joining Jazz I will be the band’s favorite Little Rock vocalist, Rychy St. Vincent.

Today at Noon – Panel Discussion of “NO TEARS SUITE” commissioned by OXFORD AMERICAN

Today (March 1) at noon – a free panel discussion presented in collaboration with the National Park Service and Clinton School of Public Service will be held at Central High School National Historic Site.

Featuring  Rufus Reid, Kelley Hurt, and Bobby LaVell, the panel will be moderated by composer Chris Parker. The goal is to facilitate discussion on the ongoing work of social equity in the United States from the perspectives of people living in different communities and what role music and the arts play in affecting change in our society today.

Additional partners on the project include University of Central Arkansas College of Fine Arts & Communication, Central High National Historic Site, Kay Kelley Arnold, Mid-America Arts Alliance, National Endowment for the Arts, Arkansas Arts Council, and Mosaic Templars Cultural Center.

This project is generously funded by the Stella Boyle Smith Trust, Mid-America Arts Alliance, the National Endowment for the Arts and the state arts agencies of Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas.

Performances of “No Tears Suite” will take place on Saturday at Mosaic Templars Cultural Center and Sunday at Central High School.

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.