The lineup includes Shakespeare’s raucous comedy,THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR; his complex and intriguing THE MERCHANT OF VENICE; the beloved musical FIDDLER ON THE ROOF (with book by Joseph Stein, music by Jerry Bock and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick), and a delightful adaptation for young audiences of Shakespeare’s comedy, AS YOU LIKE IT.
“Looking toward my fourth year as the artistic leader of Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre, I wanted to have a repertory season that was exciting and fresh, that truly allowed the productions to be viewed in dialogue with each other, and also one that would capture audiences’ imaginations and challenge them to think about their lives,” said Producing Artistic Director Rebekah Scallet. “I think these four shows do just that.”
Scallet selected the productions based on the theme of identity.
“All of the plays have characters at their center who are struggling with issues of who they are,” she said. “Tevye in FIDDLER must come to terms with what it means to be a traditional man in an increasingly modern world, Shylock in MERCHANT must navigate his Jewish identity in a world that his hostile to his religion, Falstaff in MERRY WIVES views himself as a romantic lover while the rest of the world sees him only as a buffoon, and Rosalind in AS YOU LIKE IT disguises herself as a boy and better understands her true nature and the nature of love in the process.”
The season will take place at multiple venues: Donald W. Reynolds Performance Hall on the University of Central Arkansas campus and The Village at Hendrix, both in Conway, as well as outdoors in the Argenta Arts District in North Little Rock. AS YOU LIKE IT will also be available for touring with performances already scheduled at Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville and the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute on Petit Jean Mountain.
AST will also partner with other community organizations this year to help explore some of the key issues of religious diversity, tolerance and the significance of faith and tradition that are raised specifically in FIDDLER ON THE ROOF and THE MERCHANT OF VENICE. Collaborations with the Jewish Federation of Arkansas and Temple B’nai Israel of Little Rock have been established to organize educational and outreach events on these topics both leading up to and during the season.
Actors, designers and crew will arrive in Conway on May 10 to begin the process of creating the four shows to be produced in multiple venues and play in repertory in Central Arkansas. THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR will kick off the 2015 season at The Village at Hendrix in Conway on June 4 and then tour to the Argenta Arts District in North Little Rock.
“With these two outdoor venues, 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 Dr. Mary Ruth Marotte, AST’s executive director. “Our outdoor venue at The Village has drawn huge crowds the last four years, and our audiences look forward to the show and the entire experience of Shakespeare under the stars. In addition, we look forward to bringing our professional theatre to Argenta for our third consecutive year.”
The remaining productions will be performed at Reynolds Performance Hall on the UCA campus, where AST makes its home.
The season will close June 28 with a matinee performance of THE MERCHANT OF VENICE in Reynolds. Tickets for the season go on sale April 13, 2015.
More information about the 2015 season will be announced at AST’s annual Fall Membership Party on Oct. 23, 2014 at 6:30 p.m. at the home of Brad Lacy in Conway, 507 Locust Ave. Admission is free to all 2015 AST members, with membership donations being taken at the door. Membership to AST begins at $50 per family. The night’s festivities will include food, wine/beer, a scotch and wine raffle, and live music. All are encouraged to attend.
For more information about all of the above, visit arkshakes.com or call 501-852-0702.
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 a range of Shakespeare’s works, as well as other plays and musicals that help fulfill AST’s mission to entertain, engage, and enrich the community.