The Rep Offers Military Discounts

Blue Star TheatresDid you know that Arkansas Repertory Theatre offers special discounts to military personnel and their immediate families?

The Rep has a long-standing committment to the military personnel in our community and we welcome you to our theatre.

As a Blue Star Theatre, we offer discounted tickets to military personnel, spouses, children and U.S. Veterans immediate. To book your tickets, visit our season calendar, contact the Box Office at (501) 378-0405 and identify yourself as military personnel. All tickets are based on availability.

Blue Star Theatres is a program of Blue Star Families and Theatre Communications Group, with support from the MetLife Foundation.

From Script to Stage: Macbeth Original Score

Arkansas Repertory Theatre's production of William Shakespeare's Macbeth. photos by Stephen B. Thornton

The cast of The Rep’s production of Macbeth.
Photo by Stephen B. Thornton

To set the atmospheric tone for a show like Shakespeare’s Macbeth, it takes an eerie, beautiful and at times, haunting, score.

For the first time ever, The Rep enlisted to help of Musical Director Mark Binns to compose an original score for a production

We have launched a brand-new video series From Script to Stage and for the third in the series, we had a chance to sit down with Binns to look at the inspiration of the score, his process, what he enjoyed most and a few samples of the pieces you’ll hear during the production. Check it out below!

The Shakespeare drama takes The Rep stage through Sept. 27! Book your tickets to Macbeth by calling (501) 378-0405 or visiting TheRep.org.

Macbeth Monday: Q&A with Lighting Designer Dan Kimble

Michael Stewart as Macbeth in The Rep's production of Macbeth. Photo by Stephen B. Thornton.

Michael Stewart as Macbeth in The Rep’s production of Macbeth. Photo by Stephen B. Thornton.

To highlight all of the cool aspects of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, we have launched a week blog series called Macbeth Mondays!

In the final week, we are highlighting the incredible lighting elements of the Shakespeare tragedy with some insight from Lighting Designer Dan Kimble. Find out his approach for the production, how the set affects the design, the cool effects created just for the show, plus more.

Here is what he had to say:

Q: What piqued your interest in lighting design?

A: I was first exposed to theatre in high school. I was in shows like Oklahoma! and The Music Man, but I was most interested in how the lighting worked. I was fascinated by everything that went into lighting a show: the color options, power requirements, angle and placement, the followspots, etc. I started college without knowing what major I wanted to pursue. Fortunately, I had to take a theatre class as part of the general education requirements for all majors. In that class, the students had to work on tech crew for one of the university’s mainstage shows. I asked to be a followspot operator for Annie Get Your Gun and loved doing it. After talking with the professor of the class and learning that people had full careers being lighting designers, I was hooked.

Q: How do you approach the lighting design for a play like Macbeth?

A: Most of Shakespeare’s plays can be (and frequently are) interpreted in a variety of ways; the creative license can be very broad. The first step is to read the script and understand what the text is giving you. Any questions moving forward can usually be answered by referring to the script, especially with Shakespeare. After thinking about what preliminary concepts I want for the lighting, the next step is beginning a dialogue with the director and the other members of the creative team. Director Bob Hupp was great with knowing the themes he wanted to convey while allowing me to focus on the story I wanted to tell with the lighting. Studying the work of the other designers (scenic, props, costumes, music, and sound) also helped inform my approach because it was crucial that I support their concepts while also helping it all come together.

Q: How does the set affect your design?

Kurt Benjamin Smith as Malcolm in The Rep's production of Macbeth. Photo by Stephen B. Thornton.

Kurt Benjamin Smith as Malcolm in The Rep’s production of Macbeth. Photo by Stephen B. Thornton.

A: No other design element affects the lighting of a show more than the set. Lighting a show is 50 percent lighting the actors and 50 percent lighting the set. Scenic design, though self-sustaining, can give me great surfaces, structures and details to use to create environments and tell my story, much like in Macbeth. However, it can also create physical challenges when I am trying to figure out where to put lighting fixtures to achieve the looks that I want. Sometimes, a wall or some other scenic element can be between me and the ideal lighting angle. But, as part of a creative team, those challenges are discussed and solved in a way that supports the show and its overall aesthetic.

Q: In addition to the lights, there will special effects in the show. What will patrons be able to expect?

A: Without giving anything away, expect to see some things that you haven’t seen on our stage before. We incorporated a new design element into Macbeth, and I believe it is quite successful and helps particular scenes have a eerie and creepy feel (hint, hint).

Q: What do you enjoy most about creating the design for theatre?

A: I enjoy helping to create the moments that only a live performance can give you. The goosebumps, the awe and the surprise. Sure, more can be accomplished in a movie, but as an audience member, you are not an active member of that viewing. As a patron of The Rep, you are as much a part of those moments on stage as the actors, designers and technicians are. No two performances are the same; each show is singular and unique. It’s just part of what makes theatre so great.

See the cool lighting yourself by booking your tickets before the show ends this Sunday, Sept. 27– call the Box Office at (501) 378-0405 or visit TheRep.org.

And learn everything else you need to before seeing the drama by checking out our study guide here!

Sign Interpreter Night for Macbeth on Sept. 23

IKcjgzqMcqn an effort to make Arkansas Repertory Theatre more accessible, we have a Sign Interpreter section for the deaf on the third Wednesday of every production run through the season.

Raphael James, an instructor in the Interpreter Education program at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, will be positioned in front of the section, located on the First Mezzanine. He will sign directly for those who need his services.

We are gearing up for our next sign interpretation night, which will be the Macbeth performance at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 23. There are still seats available! Any open seats in the section will be released to the public at 3 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 22, so get your seats now!

Here are the remaining sign interpreter performances:10653652_10152240681971105_882036142166987126_n

  • 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee: 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 28
  • The Little Mermaid: 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 16
  • Peter and the Starcatcher: 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016
  • Bridges of Madison County: 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 20, 2016
  • Windfall: 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Contact the Box Office at (501) 378-0405 to reserve your seat at our upcoming interpreter nights and get more details at www.therep.org/attend.

From Script to Stage: Macbeth Costume Design

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The cast of Macbeth. Photo by Stephen B. Thornton.

From the leather armor and tunics to the moccasins, helmets and other pieces, there is no doubt much time went into planning and crafting these incredible pieces. And the woman behind these extensive costumes is returning costume designer Marianne Custer, the resident costume designer for the Clarence Brown Theatre in Knoxville, Tenn. and head of the MFA design program at The University of Tennessee.

We have launched a brand-new video series From Script to Stage and for the second in the series, we had a chance to sit down with Custer on the inspiration behind the incredible costumes, the patterns and fabrics used, as well as a look at the badges on the armor, the moccasins and more. Check it out below!

The Shakespeare drama takes The Rep stage Sept. 11-27! Book your tickets to Macbeth by calling (501) 378-0405 or visiting TheRep.org.

Macbeth Monday: Did You Know?

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Michael Stewart Allen as Macbeth in The Rep’s production of Macbeth. Photo by John David Pittman.

Our 40th Season is here!

And a new show means a new blog series. To highlight all of the cool aspects of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth— our first show of the season– we have launched a week blog series called Macbeth Mondays!

This week, we are looking at a few things you may not know about the Bard, himself, and Macbeth, not to mention a few interesting stats.

Here you go!

Did you know?

  • Over 80 variations on the spelling of Shakespeare’s name have been discovered. Even the Bard himself couldn’t decide how to spell his name, it seems—in surviving signatures, we can see that he used “Willm Shaksp,” “William Shakespe,” and “Wm Shakespe,” among others.
  • The records from Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-up on-Avon show the baptism of baby William Shakespeare on April 26, 1564 (since infant baptisms typically occurred 3 days after birth, Shakespeare’s birthday is traditionally dated April 23, 1564). Coincidentally, he died on the same day 52 years later: April 23, 1616.
  • Shakespeare is credited with introducing some 3, 000 new words to the English language. Scholars estimate that he had up to an astonishing 29,000 words in his vocabulary– that’s at least twice as many words as used by the average speaker.
  • Over the course of his wildly successful career, Shakespeare authored 37 (some say 38) plays, 154 sonnets, and 5 narrative poems. Another way of looking at it? Shakespeare wrote 884, 647 words and 118,406 lines.
  • Shakespeare was worried enough about his final resting place that he wrote an epitaph to curse anyone who dared to disturb his body:
    Good friend, for Jesus’ sake forbear
    To dig the dust enclosed here:
    Blest be the man that spares these stones
    And curst be he that moves my bones.
    Though it was customary to dig up the bones from previous graves to make room for others, the remains in Shakespeare’s grave are still undisturbed.

By the numbers:

  • 2,113: Number of lines in uncut version of Macbeth
  • 24: Number of times the word “blood” appears in the play
  • 1623: Year Macbeth first appears in print (First Folio)
  • 681: Number of lines spoken by Macbeth
  • 80: Percentage of play written in blank verse (not much prose)
  • 1606: Year Macbeth is written

Pulled from the Macbeth study guide, prepared by Paige Reynolds.

Check back every Monday to uncover a new aspect of this incredible Shakespearean tragedy and book your tickets by calling (501) 378-0405 or visiting TheRep.org.

And learn everything else you need to before seeing the drama by checking out our study guide here!

Member Q&A: Producing Artistic Director Bob Hupp

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Bob Hupp

At the helm of Arkansas Repertory Theatre and its artistic vision is Producing Artistic Director Bob Hupp.

In his sixteenth season, Hupp has directed such plays as Red, Death Of A Salesman, Henry V, To Kill a Mockingbird, The 39 Steps, Hamlet, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Les Misérables and last season’s Wait Until Dark and August: Osage County.

Just in time for The Rep’s landmark 40th Anniversary Season, Leighanne Alford, The Rep’s Member Concierge, had a chance to talk with Hupp about his transition from New York City to Little Rock, what he loves most about the Capital City, he how casts for shows, the process for selecting productions and more.

Here is what he had to say:

Q: Being originally from Delaware and spending most of your time in New York City and the Northeast, what made you decide to accept a job in Little Rock, Ark. and move down South?

A: Southern Delaware, where I grew up, is like Arkansas with beaches: rural, lots of chickens, soybeans and watermelons and very warm and welcoming people. We came here so that I could work in one place and not travel around so much. And we came here because it seemed like a good place to raise our kids, which proved to be abundantly true. There aren’t very many jobs in the United States like mine and the competition for these limited jobs is fierce, so I feel very fortunate to be here.

Q: What surprised you most about your move to Little Rock?

A: The wealth of cultural amenities and opportunities here. This is quite unusual for a city of our size.

Q: How many times do you read through a script for a production in which you’ll be directing? And, how many times does that script change throughout your process?

A: It depends on the script. For a contemporary play, like August Osage County, it doesn’t change at all. For Shakespeare, it might change considerably: I will make cuts to clarify and streamline the story and I might change the order of scenes as I did in Hamlet. With Shakespeare, I spend months with the text: researching different versions and interpretations, comparing differing ideas about punctuation, word usage etc. For a comedy like The 39 Steps, my work is more focused on the visual realization of the script and creating the staging and physical humor. But at the end of the day, it all gets thrown out the window when the actors arrive and bring their talent and insight to the equation.

Q: What is your formula or process for selecting productions and their sequence in a season?

A: There’s no one formula or method. I want our seasons to be eclectic and represent a broad range of great plays and musicals. I often want to include a classic, American or otherwise, because that’s my core interest. I also want to see and study new plays that I think will entertain and engage our audience.  For the musicals, we have to see what rights are available or about to become available. There’s lots of input from staff, guest directors and peers, too. I look at what other theatres are doing, as well. I travel to see work as much as I can. Ultimately it is a dynamic balance between art and finance. In a good season, the two sides of this scale are not mutually exclusive.

Q: How do you work with our Casting Associate Peter Mensky and the director of a show on selecting the best person for a role?

A: Peter’s work is central to the casting process. He handles all the logistics of casting, both locally and nationally, and he makes all of our employment offers, travel arrangements, etc. Peter sorts through the thousands of resumes we receive and makes recommendations to me and our guest directors. He is definitely my valued ally in the casting process. Peter and I go back to my days of teaching college, so we’ve developed a shorthand for communication and I trust his instincts and judgment.

Q: What is your favorite production you’ve directed at The Rep and why?

A: I don’t know. It’s usually the one I’ve most recently directed. I have great fondness for The Grapes of Wrath because it was the first play I directed in Little Rock, my first work with Mike Nichols and because it was such an epic American story.

Q: Do you have any superstitions or traditions for the shows you direct personally? (i.e. ‘lucky’ pair of socks on opening, a specific routine during tech or opening week?)

A: I’ve worn the same black hoodie for the start of tech rehearsals since the late ’80s. The shirt has some holes in it, and it’s not as loose as it once was, but that shirt and I are old friends.

Q: What is your favorite book in your office?

A: I have a lot of books in my office, mostly scripts. No real favorites, just the books I’ve collected over the years. Like anyone who’s worked in the same profession for a long time, I have photos and memorabilia in my office that mean a lot to me because I associate these things with the people I’ve worked with and care about.

Q: What is your favorite place to eat in Little Rock or favorite southern dish you’ve found since living here the past 16 years?

A: I can’t pick a favorite. There are so many! I am thrilled to see so many new restaurants opening on Main Street in close proximity to The Rep. Now you can walk to great places like Bruno’s and Samantha’s on a meal break or before a performance. That’s a game-changer for those of us who work the night shift.

 If you enjoy what you’ve seen on The Rep stage,  take the next step and join us as a Member. For more information on becoming a Member, call Member Concierge Leighanne Alford at (501) 378-0445, ext. 211, or visit lalford@therep.org.

Opening Week of Macbeth: Engage With Us!

Michael Stewart Allen as Macbeth. Photo by John David Pittman.

Michael Stewart Allen as Macbeth. Photo by John David Pittman.

Can you believe it? It’s the Opening Week of Macbeth and the kickoff to The Rep’s landmark 40th MainStage Season!

Now that Labor Day weekend is over and the summer is coming to a close, we are excited to get this season started and give our patrons engaging activities in addition to our productions.

Here is this week’s lineup of fun events:

Wednesday, Sept. 9

  • Macbeth 101, 12-1 p.m.: Dramaturg and Assistant Director Paige Reynolds leads a brown bag lunch that enriches your play going experience. CLICK HERE to RSVP.
  • Preshow Director Talk, 6:15-6:45 p.m.: Get exclusive insight into our production of Macbeth from Director Bob Hupp and the creative team before the start of the preview performances. FREE!
  • Pay What You Can Night, 7 p.m.: Patrons are invited to attend the first preview of Opening Week by paying any amount they wish for their ticket. Tickets must be purchased in person at the Box Office at 601 Main Street the day of the performance. The Box Office opens at 9 a.m. There are 100 tickets available for purchase, and tickets are limited to (2) two per person.

Thursday, Sept. 10

  • Clinton School Speaker Series, 12-1 p.m. Clinton School Join Producing Artistic Director Bob Hupp and members of the cast and creative team for a panel discussion on this production. RSVP by emailing the Clinton School of Public Service. FREE!
  • Preshow Director Talk, 6:15-6:45 p.m.: Get exclusive insight into our production of Macbeth from Director Bob Hupp and the creative team before the start of the preview performances. FREE!

Friday, Sept. 11:

  • Opening Night performance and post-show party, 8 p.m.: Opening Night for Macbeth will include a post-show reception with the cast immediately following the show. Complimentary champagne and light hors d’oeuvres will be provided.

Sunday, Sept. 13

  • Pay Your Age Night, 7 p.m.: Little Rock Soiree presents The Rep’s “Pay Your Age Night” on Sunday, Sept. 13. If you’re age 40 or under, you can pay your age at The Rep! Tickets are limited to four per household. Proof of age for each member of the party is required at the time of pick-up. Call the Box Office at (501) 378-0405 to book your tickets!

Check out our full lineup of surround events during the show’s run from Sept. 11-27 here and book your tickets by calling (501) 378-0405 or visiting TheRep.org.

And learn everything else you need to before seeing the drama by checking out our study guide here!

Macbeth Monday: Q&A with Costume Designer Marianne Custer

Our first show of the 40th Anniversary MainStage Season is opening this week!

And a new show means a new blog series. To highlight all of the cool aspects of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, we are launching a week blog series called Macbeth Mondays!

This week, we are highlighting the elaborate costumes you see onstage– from the handcrafted leather armor to the plaid capes, linen tunics, moccasin shoes and more. Dramaturg and Assistant Director Paige Reynolds had the chance to talk with costume designer Marianne Custer about her inspiration.

Here is what she had to say:

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Designer Marianne Custer’s sketch of a Macbeth soldier complete with a plaid and fur-lined cape, leather armor, handcrafted moccasin shoes and linen tunic.

Q: What did you find most compelling about designing Macbeth?

A: Macbeth is one of Shakespeare’s most produced plays. I’ve designed it once before rather long ago, so it was interesting to me to work on it again from today’s perspective. I think the use of technology in this production will make the supernatural elements of the play more believable and reduce the potential for unintentional humor. The play is a grand ghost story, with hauntings, witches and murder. It’s also a play about how a guilty conscience will betray one’s worst secrets. Would it be the same play if the ambitious Macbeths had been able to rise to power and commit their murderous acts without fear or regret, as today’s ambitious power mongers seem to do?

Q: What can you tell us about your inspiration? Where did you go to cultivate your vision for the overall look?

A: Because this production is to be set in the early Romanesque centuries, my research and inspiration was Celtic costume of this era. Very little change occurred in costume during the first thousand years after Christ. Fashion didn’t exist and news didn’t travel very
fast. The costumes are designed to appear primitive to support the primitive greed and superstition that lead to Macbeth’s undoing.

I wanted to emphasize the Scottish in the play through use of “plaid” fabric and kilts. Early kilts were not made of the clan tartans that we know today, but were solid or plaid, probably depending upon the wealth of the wearer. Shreds of fabric from graves have come to prove that plaid and checked fabrics existed among the Celts during Roman times. (The term “plaid” in the discussion of Scottish kilts can lead to confusion, as plaid is the proper term for the upper body covering of the ancient kilt and the term used for the strip of “tartan” cloth worn diagonally over the torso in more modern times.) Kilts were originally long lengths of cloth that could also serve as blankets. Scots would place their belts on the ground, pleat their blankets over the belt, lie down and belt the pleated cloth around their waists. The bottom would serve as the kilt and the top could be pulled over one shoulder or draped over the head as protection from cold and rain.

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Custer’s sketch of another soldier complete with a plaid cape, leather armor, handcrafted moccasin shoes and linen tunic.

The only clothing materials that existed in Scotland at the time were wool, linen, leather and fur. The Thanes in Macbeth are knights and warriors. They live rough and battle hard, as the prologue to our production will demonstrate. The warrior’s clothing is rough, battle worn, and dirty. They were not great bathers. Though metal armor existed during this period, we are using leather armor in an effort to make the costumes appear even more primitive. Long hair with braids, full beards and long mustaches also help to emphasize the primitive nature of our characters.

Q: Is there one particular element of the design that you are especially excited about? Why?

A: I just hope to be able to make all the elements of the costumes work together. The costumes are, in part, invented, so making them all seem part of the same world is a my imperative. I also hope to find a place with the actors in which the elements of the costumes support their characters and the action without them feeling buried in “the Look”. This will be one of my most important challenges in this production. “The Look”, however, is important to maintain, not just in terms of establishing a primitive culture and helping to set the time and place, but because several actors play multiple roles, “ the Look” aids in changing the appearance of the actor from one role to the next.

Q: Where are you from? How often do you work at the Rep?

A: I am from Minneapolis. I left long ago to design costumes and teach. I am a professor of 42 years at the University of Tennessee, where I developed and still head a highly successful MFA program in design for theatre. I believe Macbeth is my tenth production
at the Rep. I love working here with Bob Hupp, Cliff Baker and other talented directors. Working on August Osage County was truly a privilege. I saw the production on Broadway, saw the movie, and believe The Rep’s production better than either. I love working with the Rep’s staff, which I find welcoming, talented and always willing to give their best to help
create a vision.

Pulled from the Macbeth study guide, prepared by Paige Reynolds.

Check back every Monday to uncover a new aspect of this incredible Shakespearean tragedy and book your tickets by calling (501) 378-0405 or visiting TheRep.org.

And learn everything else you need to before seeing the drama by checking out our study guide here!

From Script to Stage: Fight Choreography

20848584996_4378699ee9_zA lot goes into the intense fighting in our production of Macbeth and it couldn’t be done without the expertise of Fight Director Geoffrey Kent, resident fight director for the Denver Center for the Performing Arts.

We are launching a brand-new video series From Script to Stage and to kick things off, we had a chance to sit down with Kent on what goes into creating fight choreography, the kind of swords that the actors use onstage, what patrons can expect to see and more. Check it out below!

The Shakespeare drama takes The Rep stage Sept. 11-27! Book your tickets to Macbeth by calling (501) 378-0405 or visiting TheRep.org.