The Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre, the only Arkansas theatre group to be profiled in the New York Times, has occupied Conway again, in this, its fourth season.
A visitor to the campus of the University of Central Arkansas would not find its buildings empty, having been recently voided by university students.
The campus is playing host to actors, actresses, directors, stage managers, designers and theatre types of various occupations for the duration of the summer festival.
Matt Chiorini, producing artistic director, said the theatre group is comprised of a mixture of locals and veteran performers from cities like Houston, New York City and Milwaukee.
“We pull in people from almost everywhere each year. The festival creates a small community of theatre who work together to create these shows from scratch for six weeks,” Chiorini said.
Most of the theatre group live and work on the campus, which plays host to the group and provides sponsorship.
Four plays are to be featured during the festival; Shakespeare’s “Comedy of Errors,” and his well-known and more serious production, “Henry V.”
For that production, Chiorini has taken on the burden of playing what he called Shakespeare’s greatest character. For the theatre fan who may not be interested in Shakespeare, Chiorini said, “Alice in Wonderland” and “Dracula” will also be available.
Showings begin June 16 with five performances of “Comedy of Errors.”
“Henry V” will begin June 18, with four performances, and “Dracula,” June 24 with six performances.
“Alice in Wonderland” will conclude the season with four performances.
Chiorini said the decision was made to offer tickets at a lower cost this season. Another cost-saving measure was taken by the group when a “pay what you can Sunday” performance was added to the docket.
General admission to performances will be $20 per ticket, $15 for seniors and the UCA community and $10 for students.
All “Alice in Wonderland” performances will be $10.
An additional membership, which grants access to food, an open bar and karaoke with the cast after opening performances, is also available this season at an additional cost.
Those memberships are available online or at the UCA Ticket Central box office.
Chiorini said this season would be a continuation of all things that made the festival successful in years past, but with more opportunity for participation.
Productions were chosen, which would cater to a wider variety of interests, including children and families.
Another opportunity for involvement will be at the third annual Bard Ball.
The ball will take place at 7 p.m. June 11 in the McCastlain Ballroom on the UCA campus and will serve as a kickoff celebration and fundraiser to the festival.
Those in attendance will be able to meet and be entertained by festival actors in a vampire-themed murder mystery.
Tickets at $30 per person or $50 per couple may be purchased at the event.
Dan Matisa, a New York-based actor in “Henry V,” said he is “happy and proud” to be back in Conway for the fourth season of the festival.
“What begins now is the fast, frantic, and fulfilling task of bringing everything together by June 16, so that on opening night, all of us, including the most important people in this process, the audience, share an experience together that will change all of our lives and bring us closer together.”
For a detailed schedule of each performance, to order tickets or for more information about the Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre, visit their website at www.arkshakes.com.
(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)