On Sept. 29 at Associate Professor of English Mary Ruth Marotte’s home, the Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre announced the productions lined up for its 11th season.
The season will begin with a production of “Love’s Labour’s Lost,” an early comedy by William Shakespeare. Following that, the theater company will produce “Julius Caesar” and a family friendly one-hour adaptation of “The Taming of the Shrew.” Rounding out the season will be AST’s production of Meredith Wilson’s “The Music Man.”
Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre is the only professional summer theater that focuses on producing Shakespeare’s plays in Arkansas. Every summer, the theater company produces three of Shakespeare’s plays, as well as a musical. For the past 11 years, UCA has been home to this theater company.
According to Producing Artistic Director Rebekah Scallet, the season will focus primarily on the “power of persuasion.”
“I always like to pick shows that share some qualities and can be united by a theme, and each of these plays features language used in a powerful way,” Scallet said. “In ‘Love’s Labour’s Lost,’ language is used to argue the logic both for and against falling in love. In ‘Julius Caesar,’ language is used to move the masses and change the course of an empire. In ‘The Music Man,’ the music and lyrics celebrate the power of language in winning hearts and minds. In ‘The Taming of the Shrew,’ language is the weapon that Kate and Petruchio use in their battles.”
Last season, the theater housed productions of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “West Side Story” and a family adaptation of “Twelfth Night,” which toured local high schools, theaters and state parks. The productions were met with rave reviews and more than 6,000 individuals experienced the season, Scallet said.
Scallet commented that one of her main goals for the theater is to make Shakespeare as accessible to audiences in Arkansas as possible. Some of the ways the theater accomplishes this is by offering free tickets to UCA students, as well as implementing a “pay what you can” performance for the outdoor show.
“I truly believe that Shakespeare’s stories are relevant to everyone and can have the power to inspire and cause refl ection on our own lives and our world, and I want as many people as possible to able to have that experience,” Scallet said.
Emily Wold, a local actress from Little Rock who starred as Helena in AST’s production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and recently completed the remounted touring production of AST’s “Twelfth Night,” echoed Scallet’s statements, commenting on the relevance of Shakespeare in today’s society.
“The stories are just so thematically timeless. You can see any Shakespeare play and find pieces from it that are pertinent to today’s world. His plays are very poignant,” Wold said.
Scallet said the upcoming season of shows is exciting for a multitude of reasons.
“Three out of the four shows will be performed for the first time at AST; in particular, ‘Love’s Labour’s Lost’ is not a frequently produced Shakespeare play, so it will be an exciting opportunity for Arkansans to see this delightful show. I’m also thrilled to return to the lawn in front of McCastlain Hall for this production — it was such a beautiful setting for last year’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream,’” Scallet said.
Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre’s 11th season will run from early June to early July 2017. For more information, visit www.arkshakes.com.
Image via quotesgram.com
Originally posted in the Oct. 5, 2016 print edition of The Echo.