By Jessica Hodges
To show thanks for recent donations to the Arkansas Shakespeare Theater, a group of Hendrix students gave a ghost tour of downtown Conway. The patrons of AST were met at a local restaurant shortly after dark and led down the nearby, winding streets. The students who helped in the telling of ghost stories were led by faculty member Eric Binnie.
Dressed in hooded cloaks and carrying flickering lanterns, the students escorted the group as they made their way through downtown Conway. One of the cloaked students carried a skull that was lit up for an even spookier effect. The students made an extra effort to keep their faces hidden by the shadows of their hoods in order to add to the mystery of the night. As they walked, local ghost stories were told. Stories included tales of the local family feud between the Ingram and Hoss families and of the old, haunted, town well. Other stories included a pair of jilted lovers and a tale of the old movie theater which had previously burned down. At certain places along the route, the group stopped and stories about the current location were shared with the eager listeners. These pauses in the tour were often punctuated with screams or voices from various hooded members who had previously slipped away, unnoticed by the group. The sudden disappearance or reappearance of the cloaked escorts kept the supporters of AST on their toes and increased the overall enjoyment of the ghost tour for the participants and their attendants. The students took turns telling spooky tales and wandering in and out amongst their guests. The tour lasted about an hour and ended as the cloaked figures took their leave of the patrons. Due to the level of enthusiasm shown by the AST supporters, more ghost tours are sure to follow.
The Arkansas Shakespeare Theater is supported by Hendrix and UCA. The 2011 season will include “Othello,” “As You Like It,” and “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” Auditions for these productions will be held on Saturday, February fifth at UCA in the Renyolds Performance Hall from nine in the morning until eight at night, by appointment. Appointments may be made starting January third by e-mail. E-mails may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org and more information about the audition process and AST itself may be found here.
Rehearsals and performances will take place during the summer, and rehearsals will be scheduled six days a week. Though participants will have to devote a large amount of time to the theater during the process of bringing the shows together, the experience promises to be an enjoyable and satisfying one.
The Arkansas Shakespeare Theater can also be followed on their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/arkshakes.
Paid internships are available for current or recently graduated college students, and free housing will be provided for those who require it. Participation is encouraged and passion is sure to ensue.