Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre sets 2016 season

Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre will mark its 10th-anniversary season of professional theatre in repertory beginning in June 2016 with performances of the Shakespeare classics A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Romeo and Juliet, as well as West Side Story and a one-hour Family Shakespeare adaptation of Twelfth Night.

“Looking toward my fifth year as the artistic director and the 10th anniversary year of AST, I am planning a repertory season that will feature favorite actors from the past 10 seasons starring in some of Shakespeare’s most beloved shows,” said Producing Artistic Director Rebekah Scallet. “Taking love as our theme, this is going to be the biggest season in AST history.”

The season includes a beloved Shakespeare comedy, his tragic tale of star-crossed lovers, the thrilling and moving musical West Side Story (Book by Arthur Laurents, Music by Leonard Bernstein, Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim), and the adaptation of another Shakespeare comedy.

The season will primarily take place at Donald W. Reynolds Performance Hall, AST’s home on the University of Central Arkansas campus, with Twelfth Night touring to multiple venues around the state, including performances already scheduled at Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, Argenta Arts District in North Little Rock and the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute on Petit Jean Mountain.

To further celebrate the 10th-anniversary season and mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, AST is planning festivities throughout the year. On March 5, 2016, AST will partner with the Conway Symphony Orchestra on a stunning collaboration of Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, featuring Shakespeare’s romantic text.

Another highlight will be the arrival of a copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio.

“Next June is going to be momentous for both AST and for the entire community as we welcome a copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio into the Baum Gallery on the UCA campus,” said Mary Ruth Marotte, AST’s executive director. “We look forward to the many events that will coincide with this historic exhibit and the ways that our season will complement the viewing of this relic.”

In a highly selective application process, AST, in collaboration with UCA, was selected as the only Arkansas site to host a copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio. The First Folio will arrive in the Baum Gallery on June 7 and will remain there until July 12th, coinciding with the anniversary season.

Actors, designers, and crew will arrive in Conway in May to begin the process of creating the four shows to be produced in multiple venues and play in repertory in Central Arkansas. A Midsummer Night’s Dream will kick off the 2016 season and will be presented outdoors. Romeo and Juliet and West Side Story will be in Reynolds Performance Hall, with Twelfth Night performing at Reynolds as well as touring to venues across the state.

Specific performance dates and times and venue information will be released in January. Tickets for the season go on sale April 15, 2016. 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 their 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.

The UCA College of Fine Arts and Communication includes the Departments of Art, Communication, Mass Communication and Theatre, Music and Writing. The college’s primary mission is the preparation of the next generation of artists, educators and communicators. For more information about CFAC, visit www.uca.edu/cfac or call (501) 450-3293.

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