Tag Archives: Mary Ruth Marotte

Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre’s seventh season of entertaining and thought-provoking summer theatre in repertory will run June 6-30 at multiple venues: the 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.

The season will include Much Ado About NothingKing LearOliver! and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, adapted for a young audience.

“Actors, designers and crew will arrive in Conway on May 12 and begin the exciting process of creating the four shows we’ll produce in multiple venues in central Arkansas,” said Dr. Mary Ruth Marotte, AST’s executive director. “We will open Much Ado About Nothing at The Village at Hendrix on June 6 and then move this production to the Argenta Arts District in North Little Rock for performances on June 21 and 22.

With pay what you can performances at these two outdoor venues, AST officials hope that theater-goers in Arkansas and around the region will embrace AST as a reflection of the cultural and artistic growth that is currently under way in the state.

“Our outdoor venue at The Village at Hendrix has drawn huge crowds the last two years, and we look forward to bringing our professional theatre to a wider audience with the addition of an outdoor venue in Argenta.” Marotte said.

The remaining productions will be performed at Reynolds Performance Hall.


“Every summer we have artists converge on Conway from across our country to create great productions in an extremely short period of time, and all of us really become a family,” said producing artistic director Rebekah Scallet.“It is therefore fitting that our theme for this summer is ‘family.’”

“The importance of family runs through all of the productions this year, from the obvious connections in King Lear (the story of a father who abdicates power to his daughters only to find the ties that bind are not as strong as he thought) and Oliver! (following an orphan’s search to find ‘love’ and a family) to the not so obvious in Much Ado, which also has an orphan at its center — Beatrice. Having just started a family myself with the birth of my son in September, this is definitely a topic that finds resonance with me, as I trust it will with our audiences this summer.”

Chicago-based actor Ron Thomas and Little Rock-based actress Heather Dupree, who both starred in last summer’s Twelfth Night, will take on the roles of sparring lovers Benedick and Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing. Other productions this summer include King Lear (starring veteran Shakespearean actor Henson Keys as Lear) and directed by Scallet; a children’s adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, dubbed “Bottom’s Dream,” directed by AST’s beloved actor and director Josh Rice; and the family-friendly musical Oliver!, directed by DJ Salisbury and featuring New York-based actor Warren Kelly as Fagin and marking the premiere of Simon Marotte of Conway in the title role.


Subscriptions for the season are on sale; single tickets for any show may be purchased online or by phone at the Reynolds box office at 866-810-0012.

Rebekah Scallet | Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre

After a six-month search, Rebekah Scallet, an Arkansas native, will become producing artistic director of Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre, starting Aug. 15.

Dr. Mary Ruth Marotte will continue as executive director.

“I am thrilled to have Rebekah as an artistic partner. Her experience in directing, teaching, and arts management will help AST reach new heights,” Marotte said. (more…)

Executive Director Mary Ruth Marotte and Artistic Director Matt Chiorini appeared on Arts Scene, presented by UALR College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences and UALR Public Radio.

Matt Chiorini’s interview begins at 16:05.

Today Matt Chiorini, our artistic director, turned to me and said,”It’s happening, isn’t it? It’s really happening.” Indeed, it is. Working on a festival for an entire year, you can lose perspective. In the throes of fundraising and artistic production, you can lose sight of the end goal, but these past few days have reminded me why we do what we do. Sitting in on rehearsals, I’ve been privy to the palpable excitement generated in a festival such as ours. (more…)

Women's Inc | April Edition | Executive Director Mary Ruth Marotte
Be sure to pick up the April edition of Women’s Inc! The feature article highlights Mary Ruth’s indirect path to the Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre, her family, the Family Festival and Shakespeare Scurry, and the upcoming season.


Executive Director Mary Ruth Marotte was awarded a Faculty Enhancement Grant by the UCA Foundation to bring in Renaissance scholar Dr. Paul Menzer to speak on opening night of AST’s production of Othello, June 25th, 2011. Dr. Menzer has worked for the Folger Shakespeare Library and the American Shakespeare Center.


After four years as founding producing artistic director of the Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre, Matt Chiorini has moved away, but he’s not really gone.

Chiorini moved to Syracuse, N.Y., over the summer to take a position as assistant professor of theatre at Le Moyne College, a small Jesuit school. But he will return to Conway, at least for a year, as artistic director of AST in 2011.

Mary Ruth Marotte, assistant professor of English at UCA, has taken on Chiorini’s development and marketing duties in her new role as executive director.

“This upcoming year, Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre will have two very strong leaders at the helm,” said Dr. Rollin Potter, dean of UCA’s College of Fine Arts and Communication. “On the artistic side, Matt Chiorini returns with all of the talent and energy that has moved AST into a true level of excellence. In Dr. Marotte, we have a visionary executive who will bring AST’s strategic plans in development and promotion to fruition.  This is the best of all worlds.”

As artistic director, Chiorini will be responsible for the shows, schedule and hiring of artists.

He said it was difficult to leave AST.

“Though I feel a very real sense of ownership over it, I also have been feeling lately that it’s gone about as far as I’m able to take it,” Chiorini said. “I’ve worked hard to get it up and running and at a high level very quickly, and now it’s ready for new energy and some fresh leadership and ideas.”

After the 2010 season, he spent the rest of the summer seeing Shakespeare productions at other festivals.

“For a small town in Arkansas, we’ve got one of the better festivals around,” he said. “I’m really proud of what we’ve accomplished and hope to stay involved in the future.”

He said several people approached Marotte about stepping into his role after he announced he was leaving.

“She asked me what I thought about it, and I thought it would be a great idea, but she’d probably still need someone to choose the season and the artists and run the artistic operations of the festival — all the things that I most enjoyed doing anyway,” he said. “We ran the idea by Dean Potter, who had just begun a search for a full-time replacement, and this seemed like a good interim solution while they search for the next leader of AST.”

Chiorini said Marotte had been “a big engine behind the scenes for years.”

“A lot of our success is due to her tenacity and resourcefulness,” he said. “She cares about this company and what it does for our region and from the beginning has put her weight behind it. She has connections all over Conway and in Little Rock, and I have no doubt that she will work tirelessly to continue our momentum.

“Whoever takes over as the artistic director will be lucky to have her handling the development and fundraising in the future.”

Marotte, a native Arkansan, grew up in Little Rock and graduated from Central High School and Hendrix College. She earned a Master’s degree in English from UCA and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Tennessee. After spending several years in Tennessee and Palo Alto, Calif., she returned to Arkansas five years ago and has been involved with AST since its inception.

“As soon as I heard that UCA had hired someone to start a Shakespeare Theatre in Conway, I wanted to meet that person,” she said. “I had been to the Alabama Shakespeare Festival several times, had visited Stratford, and was thrilled with what such a festival might bring to Conway.

“What I found in Matt was an energetic, magnetic personality intent on bringing fine professional theatre to Conway.”

Chorini asked her to serve on the AST board, and since then she’s been involved in every aspect of the festival, particularly special events and the membership campaign.

“Though my role has clearly changed as I’ve taken on the executive duties of AST, my role has always been to promote the festival in the region,” Marotte said. “I probably don’t have any conversation in which AST doesn’t find a way in, both because of my passion for the theatre and because of the way I see AST fitting into a sort of cultural renaissance happening in Conway.

“We are a community poised to become a center for arts and culture in the region, without a doubt.”

She said she and Chiorini communicated by phone and e-mail daily.

“He’s a friend, and that helps, but we are equally desirous that this festival continue to grow and thrive,” she said. “I trust completely Matt’s artistic acumen, and he trusts my instincts when it comes to tactical strategy. That mutual trust, I believe, is critical and will ensure success.

“This dual role is necessary, simply because there is so much work to be done.”

She echoes Chiorini’s vision of AST as a cultural and artistic destination that comes to define Conway in the same way the American Shakespeare Center defines Staunton, Va.

“It makes good sense, really, that AST happens here in Conway — in a university town that has a population that has come to expect excellence in the performing arts,” she said. “With artistic renewal comes economic stimulation. AST will play a large role in making that happen for Conway.”

For more information about the Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre, visit www.arkshakes.com.

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    Reynolds Performance Hall
    223 Beatrice Powell St
    Conway, AR 72035

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  • Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre proudly makes its home at the University of Central Arkansas.