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.

Why You Should Become a Rep Subscriber

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

We can’t believe we are nearing the end of our 39th MainStage Season here at Arkansas Repertory Theatre.

From a rollicking musical to kick things off to a fantastic start to a heart-stopping suspenseful thriller, sugary sweet holiday production, a poignant historical drama, a prim and proper classic and a hysterical look at the dysfunctional American family, this season has been filled with top-notch shows for just about any theatre lover.

And we are hoping to continue our momentum as we move into our landmark 40th MainStage Season! One of the best and most economical ways to see our big anniversary season is to become a subscriber. Not only will you always get the best seats at the best price (in advance of sold-out shows) but $5 off any additional orchestra tickets you buy all-season long.

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Michael McKenzie (Bill Fordham) and LeeAnne Hutchison (Barbara Fordham) in August: Osage County. Photo by Stephen B. Thornton.

Here are some other benefits to being a subscriber:

  • No-charge flexible exchange policy: Need to switch your dates? No problem. Free ticket exchanges are reserved exclusively for season ticket holders and can be used as often as needed.
  • Lost ticket insurance: Season ticket holders can replace misplaced tickets right up to curtain time.

Whether you prefer flexibility or the ease of having the same seats all season-long, The Rep has to perfect option for you with plans starting at just $198! Here is what you can choose from:

  • 6-PLAY SERIES SUBSCRIPTION

    The Seats You Want, When You Want Them*
    You are guaranteed the same seats for all six MainStage productions, renewable from season to season. Just select your favorite seat (subject to availability) and date you wish to attend. If you are unable to attend on your preferred night due to an unexpected conflict, simply call the Box Office 24 hours in advance to attend another performance of the same production at no additional charge.

  • UNDER-21 PASS

    Under 21 with a valid student ID?
    You get Six (6) Passes, one pass per show, for MainStage productions at a deeply discounted price.

  • 6-PLAY FLEXPASS SUBSCRIPTION

    The Flexibility to Choose Your Shows
    Build your own season! You start with Six (6) Passes and choose which plays you want to see, when you want to see them. Your FlexPass may be used in any combination: two passes for one show, four passes for another, or two for each of three shows, etc. Simply call the Box Office to book your seats.

    If you’re a new subscriber, click here to subscribe now! And if you’re renewing your subscription, click here. You can also subscribe by calling the Box Office at (501) 378-0405 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday – Friday.

Saints & Sinners: How to Use Online Bidding System BidPal

SSlogoHiResArkansas Repertory Theatre’s biggest event of the year, Saints & Sinners, is almost here!

In addition to magical entertainment that will take over the Statehouse Convention Center on Saturday, Jan .31, funds will be raised for The Rep through silent, super silent and live auctions.

For the silent and super silent, we are utilizing the easy online bidding system, BidPal, for patrons. With the site live now, head over to the BidPal page NOW and start your bidding! Here are some common questions about getting started:

How do I find items?

You can find items by pressing one of the four BLUE buttons on the Main Menu:

  • Enter Item Number
  • View All Items
  • View Categories
  • Items with No Bids

How do I bid on an item?Devices

You can bid from anywhere, any time! Find the item you are interested in by pressing one of the four BLUE buttons listed above. Find the item and press “Submit Bid.”

Where are the items I bid on?

The items you bid on are listed “View My Items.” The icons are as follows:

  • Checkmark: You are the high bidder
  • Exclamation Point: You have been outbid
  • X: Item has been sold

Can BidPal automatically bid for me?

Once you have submitted a bid, you will be prompted to enter a max bid. Upon doing so, BidPal will automatically bid on your behalf, by increment, whenever you are outbid, to your max bid amount. NOTE: ONLY THE CURRENT HIGH BIDDERR CAN ENTER A MAX BID.

Was I outbid?

If you see a flashing OUTBID message, tap it or press “View My Items” to see what you were outbid on!

Here is some more information about the silent auction at Saints & Sinners:

  • At the event, the silent auction will begin at 6 p.m. and will close by 8:30 p.m. All items in the silent auction have an item number affixed or nearby. Enter the item number into your smartphone to bid on the item. Each incremental bid amount is displayed on BidPal and constitutes a valid bid.
  • An announcement will be made at the time the auction closes. At closing, the highest bid that meets the minimum-increase rule constitutes the winning bid. Payments may be made immediately through BidPal using Discover card or paid for at the cashier’s table starting at 9 p.m. Payments can be made using check, Visa, MasterCard or American Express.
  • Items may be claimed once payment is complete. Pickup of silent auction items closes during live auction and will reopen once the live auction is completed.
  • All items must be taken home on the night of the auction unless other arrangements have been made with The Rep.

Questions before the event? Call Ronda Lewis at (501) 378-0445 ext. 203! For help during the event on Saturday, Jan. 31, volunteers will be on hand to answer questions.

Get more information and purchase your tickets to Saints & Sinners by clicking here.

Get Ready for The Rep’s Biggest Event of the Year: 31st Annual Saints & Sinners

12295416835_f56809181b_zOn Jan. 31, Arkansas art aficionados will come together to celebrate the state’s largest non-profit professional theatre company, Arkansas Repertory Theatre.
The 31st Annual Arkansas Repertory Theatre Saints and Sinners Gala will be held at the Statehouse Convention Center Wally Allen Ballroom at 6 p.m. The 2015 gala will be emceed by KTHV Channel 11’s Craig O’Neill, and will feature special entertainment offering a glimpse of the magic The Rep produces throughout the year.
The gala is co-chaired by Marla Johnson and James Norris, both of Aristotle.
In addition to special entertainment, the evening will feature both a silent and live auction, 12295645564_0625e1982a_zdinner, and dancing. Tickets for the event are available starting at $400 per person. Table sales and sponsorship are also available.
“Saints and Sinners has the reputation of being the most fun black-tie gala of the year, and I honestly have to agree,” said James Norris, event co-chair.  “The Rep knows entertainment, so everything about the event is infused with theatricality and wonder.”
Funds raised at the gala will support the organization’s mission of creating a diverse body of theatrical work. A special education donation will be taken and fund The Rep’s educational programming, including its Summer Musical Theatre Intensive (SMTI) program and student matinees.
12295451364_4ef1f55494_z“The Rep is where we gather as a community to learn, share and celebrate what is important to us,” said Marla Johnson, event co-chair.  “The theatre means so much to so many of us. Without it as the long-time anchor, there would be no Main Street Revitalization; there would be no Creative Corridor. Without it, we would not be nearly as cool a city!”To purchase tickets to Saints and Sinners, contact Ronda Lewis at (501) 378-0445, ext. 203 or rlewis@therep.org.  Tickets can also be purchased online at www.therep.org.

All About Annual Giving from Annual Giving Officer Leighanne Alford

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Be our Buddy and donate to our end-of-year I’m a Buddy giving campaign!

What is Annual Giving? How is it different from, say, my ticket purchases?

I’m so glad you asked!

Annual giving plays a vital role in all non-profits – not just the arts but higher education, basic needs, zoos, you name it. Annual Giving campaigns are the staple of a vibrant and growing fundraising program. Did you know that “charitable organizations in the US…fund raise more successfully when they have in place a formal, annual fundraising drive?” (Advancing Philanthropy Magazine, Fall 2014, pg 13). The Arkansas Repertory Theatre could receive multiple sponsorships of shows each season – BUT, without those unrestricted donations, without YOUR annual gifts, there would be no place for us to show you such amazing productions.

When you purchase tickets to one of The Rep’s productions, you are helping make that play or musical happen. When you choose to make an annual gift to The Rep, you are keeping The Rep’s doors open for all to experience. Annual giving is great because it goes to pay for the greatest need at that particular time. Your annual gifts keep our lights on. Your annual gifts help pay the water bill. Your annual gifts keep our elevators maintained and working.

When you choose to be engaged with The Rep, not only as a subscriber but as one of our supporting Members through your annual gift, you ensure our sustainability and legacy. When you become one of our members, there are opportunities for behind-the-scenes fun, tours and members-only event invitations. Of course you also get the “warm and fuzzy” feel-good feeling for helping out one of your favorite organizations!

If you would like to make a donation or learn more about the benefits of our annual giving Member Program, just give Leighanne Alford a shout or email – 501.378.0445 x211 or lalford@therep.org.

Donate here!

Choose The Rep for #GivingTuesday; Be Our ‘Buddy’ This Month

Giving-Tues-Logo.jpgNow that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are over, nonprofits, businesses and communities across the world are coming together for one day to give: #GivingTuesday.

Today (Dec. 2), be a part of this global celebration of a new tradition of generosity by making any size monetary donation to Arkansas Repertory Theatre to help keep live professional theatre alive and well in central Arkansas.

Your financial donation will ensure The Rep can continue provide:

  • Top-notch educational programming through our Summer Musical Theatre Intensive (SMTI) program
  • Deeply discounted matinees, attended on a regular basis by students from 29 Arkansas counties

Take the next step and join as a donor here!BuddyLogo

If you can’t join in on the #GivingTuesday movement, though, no problem! We are accepting donations the entire month of December as part of our end-of-year “I’m a Buddy” holiday giving campaign.

Did you know that The Rep is one of 125 Blue Star Theatres across the country, which means that we offer a discount a discount for veterans and current members of the military? We love providing them with a discounted opportunity to experience live theatre their whole family will enjoy. With your donation, you’ll also be supporting these service men and women and their families who benefit from the Blue Star Theatre program.

And, every person who attends Elf will be given the opportunity to write a holiday card to a local military hero. In partnership with the 19th Force Support Squadron at the Little Rock Air Force Base, we will send these cards to active military serving overseas during the holidays!

Learn more and become our Buddy here.

Take a Leading Role: Benefits of Becoming a Member!

7163560187_e6600c6339_zIf you enjoy all of the professional productions that grace the stage of Arkansas Repertory Theatre, the state’s largest non-profit theatre, and want to continue to make a difference in the lives of young artists, then consider taking a leading role and becoming a member of The Rep.

In addition to encouraging downtown economic development and revitalization, members receive a wide range of benefits, depending on their levels. Here is an outline of benefits you can take advantage of just by becoming a member:

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There are circle levels for those who donate at a higher level, as well. Here is a look at upper levels and included benefits:

Circle levels

Get more information on benefits here and donate online here!

Don’t Be in the Dark! Estate Planning Workshop Set for Nov. 3

7348753380_c46435326aIt may not be something you have thought about yet, but estate planning is an important step to securing your future with no questions asked.

Have a chance to learn more about estate planning and how you can join Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s Encore Society— a planned giving program that allows supporters to provide financial support beyond your lifetime– with J. Lee Brown of Friday, Eldredge, & Clark, LLP on Monday, Nov. 3.

“People don’t typically think about giving– one thing the Encore Society will do is make people think about getting their affairs in order,” Brown said.

Here is a rundown of the program:

  • 5:30 p.m.: Meet & Greet in Foster’s
  • 6 p.m.: Discussion with J. Lee Brown
  • 6:45 p.m.: Backstage tour of the Wait Until Dark set

Refreshments will be provided. RSVP to Catherine Bays at (501) 378-0445 or cbays@therep.org.

16-20J. Lee Brown, a member of The Rep’s Leadership Council, concentrates his practice on tax, corporate, real estate and nonprofit matters, serving private clients in the areas of estate planning, wills and trusts, probate, and counseling corporate and business clients regarding tax planning, corporate and entity formation, and tax-exempt organizations and related matters.  He is listed in The Best Lawyers in America for Trusts and Estates and for Tax Law.

 

All About Giving: Words From Fran Carter

I grew up sitting in the audience at The Rep. My parents started bringing me when I was young, and I got my own season tickets when I got my first grown-up job in Little Rock. Sometimes a night at The Rep is a night out with friends and sometimes it’s date night, but it’s always an entertaining experience that leaves me wanting more. I especially like having a subscription, because I get to travel with The Rep’s artistic team through each season. I laugh, I cry, I am drawn into different worlds created by a variety of playwrights, brought to life by the actors and creative team, for me, on The Rep’s stage.

Fran Carter is The Rep's Director of Development.

Fran Carter is The Rep’s Director of Development.

Now I’m no longer just an audience member. The Rep is my office, and I watch all the months of preparation that go into every production. I meet the actors and designers when they arrive in Little Rock. I sit in the back of the auditorium to watch a few minutes of rehearsal. I hear feedback from friends in the lobby when they’ve seen something great on our stage. I talk with audience members of all ages and backgrounds when I’m here before a show, or during intermission. I visit with people regularly who tell me how long they’ve been attending plays at The Rep, and I meet young people coming to see a student matinee for the very first time. I bring my 12-year-old daughter to The Rep, and then we discuss all kinds of topics, conversations prompted by what she saw on our stage.

But my favorite thing about working at The Rep is getting to know our donors. Many people love Arkansas Repertory Theatre with their whole heart. I am impressed by what a generous state Arkansas is. Our friends and neighbors in this state will go out of their way to help someone in need. But it’s incredibly fulfilling to see how many people also see the value that the arts play in our lives. With the support of many donors, at every level, The Rep entertains, educates and inspires Arkansans each and every day.

Please join me in supporting The Rep with your whole heart. Buy your tickets, make a donation, and come see us often. I’ll be in the lobby – stop by and tell me what you love about The Rep!

Become a subscriber here and donate here!

Fran Carter is the Director of Development at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre.

Connecting and Being a Part of The Rep

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Some of my best family memories are when we watched the old movies and musicals on TV. We absolutely had to watch Singing in the Rain, Roman Holiday, or An American in Paris any time it was on TV – no DVR to watch it later, just lucky chance if we saw it listed in the TV Guide.

Practically everything in our house came to a standstill so the girls could curl up on the bed to talk about Audrey Hepburn’s beauty or how they filmed Gene’s dance in the pouring rain. I wanted to swim like Ester Williams and dance like Leslie Caron and we laughed every time at Tony Curtis in Some Like it Hot like it was the first time we saw it. When Gene Kelly said, “And I’ll tell you why: I’m a painter, and all my life that’s all I’ve ever wanted to do,” I would always silently substitute dancer for painter and cross my fingers for the wish.

What I saw on TV, made me work harder in ballet class so that one day I could be on the big stage. I was glued to the TV or the actors when we saw live theatre. Still to this day, I need to arrive at the theatre early to look over the entire program. The show really starts for me when I read each bio and once again start to feel connected to the stage as I wait for the magic to unfold from behind the curtain. Even during football season, I love the pre-game and halftime shows as much as the thrill of the game. Recently, I sat next to a friend during the opening week of Pal Joey. She was mesmerized from the first song to the last – the singing and dancing in the first scene caught her and she was on that stage till the finale. She later wrote me, “….the first time I ever auditioned for a musical, I was 10 years old. Being in musical theatre really was my dream job! If only I could have put it into words back then to make it happen!” During this show, she reconnected to those wonderful childhood memories too! Having known her many years, I was genuinely touched to find out she loved musical theatre too.Audrey_Hepburn_and_Gregory_Peck_on_Vespa_in_Roman_Holiday_trailer

Becoming a Member of The Rep is the best way to reconnect to those sweet memories. We join a group with hopes of benefiting from the interaction we will have with other Members and to learn more about the art form. Joining with others who support The Rep means I am part of the collective support for vital programs that are not covered by ticket sales alone. When I am sitting in the theatre, I connect to the actors and occasionally interact with those next to me. As a Member, I can deepen that relationship by attending social events and behind the scenes theatre experiences. I find many Members are eager to share their own favorite musical or play that sparked the first of many good memories. As with my friend, it is fun to find out who was also watching and secretly hoping to be like Gene Kelly or Audrey Hepburn.

Connect to The Rep – you will enjoy the memories! I would love to hear about your favorite or the first time you saw live theatre.