Arts and Theater

“The Halloween Tree” Puppet Theater To Be Performed On Campus

The Conway Symphony Orchestra, UCA Schedler Honors College and El Zócalo Immigrant Resource Center are teaming up to perform a shadow puppet theater adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s “The Halloween Tree”.

The adaptation will be performed at 8:00 p.m. on Oct. 7 and 8 in the McCastlain Ballroom on campus.

Conway Symphony Orchestra is performing all original music for the production, under the direction of Israel Getzov, Director and Conductor of the Conway Symphony Orchestra, Director of Orchestra and Professor of Music at UCA.

Original music for the shadow puppet production was composed by lead composer Paul Dickinson, Professor of Composition at UCA, Karen Griebling, Professor of Composition at Hendrix College, Michael Pagan, Associate Professor and Interim Chair of the Music Department at Ottawa University and Cory Winters, 28.

Adam Frank, producing art director director of “The Halloween Tree” and associate professor in the Schedler Honors College, got the idea for a shadow puppet adaptation of the popular book in the summer of 2015.

“I was always a big Ray Bradbury fan when I was growing up and [The Halloween Tree] was one I thought would be really interesting to adapt to stage, Frank said. “It’s about the naturalness of life and death and interesting themes that appeal to everybody in some way.”

Cast members include freshmen Zacchaeus Jolly and Briyanna Ezell as 3D Puppeteers, sophomores Averee Hall and Deshon Washington, as Silhouette Puppeteers. Designer and lead artist for the production is sophomore Adrienne Thompson..

Other members of the cast and crew included 3D Puppeteer Kayla Esmond, 24, Silhouette Puppeteer Sharon Colton, 56 and Shadow Puppeteers Don Lewis, 59, Deb Lewis, 57, Deneá Hardin, 35, Barry Clifton, 54 and Garrett Brenneman, 27.


“It’s been exciting to see and work with all of the cast members, musicians, and artists,” junior and stage manager Ashleigh Plastiras said “We have such a diverse group, ranging from college freshmen to tenured professionals, and it’s been fun to see everyone’s network expand and meet new people.”

“It’s really a mix of professional and community theater,” Frank said. “The workshops we’re doing with El Zócalo are just an important a component as the performances.”

El Zócalo Immigrant Resource Center, located in Little Rock is an organization founded by UCA Honors College alumni Sara Broussard.  Executive Director Kelsey Lam  is currently giving puppetry workshops to community members.

“This type of show is so unique, and we have a rare opportunity to have such a strong network in Conway and Little Rock that supports and makes puppet theatre,” Plastiras said.“It’s been a new experience for me as well as many of the actors.”

“The Halloween Tree” was produced with the help of grants from the Mid-American Arts Alliance, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Arkansas Arts Council.  The UCA Foundation,UCA Schedler Honors College and the UCA College of Fine Arts and Communication also offered support, according to the production’s flyer.

There will be another pay-what-you-can performance to benefit El Zócalo at 7:30 p.m. on October 27 at the Ron Robinson Theatre in Little Rock.

Tickets for the October 7 and 8 performances can be purchased from the Reynolds Performance Box Office and are $10 for students, $15 for the general public.

“The Halloween Tree” is performed with permission from the Don Congdon Associates Inc.

Story and images by Monica Sanders.

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