Share Your Favorite Memory of Bob! Wish Him Well at First-Ever Open House

BobHeadshotCan you believe it? It’s Producing Artistic Director Bob Hupp’s last month at The Rep!

In anticipation of Bob Hupp’s departure at the end of June, we are asking friends and loyal patrons of The Rep, to share your favorite memories from Bob’s 17 years as Producing Artistic Director. We will share these throughout the month of June as we bid him farewell.

Please share your memories HERE!

Have a favorite photo with Bob? Send to Lauren at ljames@therep.org!

To send Bob in Rep fashion, we are hosting a special First Open House at Arkansas Repertory Theatre from 4-6 p.m. on Monday, June 20! All of the doors will be open for tours of the space (Costume Shop, Prop Shop, rehearsal spaces, included!) at every half-hour and patrons will have a chance to wish Bob the best at his next endeavor, Syracuse Stage!

Enjoy live music from local musician and Rep Board Member Ben Brenner and ice cream from the super-popular Loblolly Creamery, who will have their food truck parked right out front. Admission is free and open to the public.

See you there!

Member Q&A: Producing Artistic Director Bob Hupp

BobHeadshot

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.

The Rep Presents ArtWorks XXVII This Saturday

It’s almost here!

ArtWorks1On Saturday, April 25, Arkansas Repertory Theatre supporters will come together to celebrate the state’s largest nonprofit professional theatre company at ArtWorks XXVII, a silent and live art auction. The silent auction will begin at 6:30 p.m. and the live auction will begin at 7:30 p.m.

This fast-paced event features both a silent and live auction featuring work by more than 90 of central Arkansas’ most talented artists and artisans. Auction pieces include pottery, watercolor, acrylic, photography, sculpture, jewelry and more.

Guest emcees will take the stage throughout the evening to auction off artwork in the live auction in The Rep’s Main Lobby. This year’s celebrity emcees include: Lance Restum, Arkansas Travelers Marketing Director; The Honorable Buddy Villines, Retired Pulaski County Judge; Bill Tsutsui, Hendrix College President and The Rep Board Member; Dawn Scott, THV11 Anchor; Alan Leverett, Arkansas Times Publisher; Pamela Smith, Little Rock School District Marketing Director; Renee Shapiro, KATV Saturday Morning Daybreak Co-Host; Lisa Fischer, Co-Host of Jeff and Lisa on B98.5FM; Alan Rail, Lead IT Specialist at sponsor Southwest Power Pool; Charlie Coleman, Attorney at sponsor Wright Lindsey and Jennings LLP and The Rep Board Member; and Bob Hupp, The Rep Producing Artistic Director.

Guests will enjoy live music, beer and wine, and heavy hors d’oeuvres provided by Sufficient Grounds, RSVP Catering, Three Fold Noodles and Dumpling Co., Southern Gourmasian and BRAVO! Cucina Italiana. Read about what they’ll be serving up at the event on Inviting Arkansas’ blog here!

All artists who make a donation to ArtWorks are given the opportunity to display their pieces in The Rep lobby throughout The Rep’s MainStage Season. The art displayed in The Rep’s lobbies throughout the season are available for purchase with proceeds from gallery sales going directly to artists. Proceeds from donated art sold at ArtWorks supports Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s general operating budget.

Get a look at one of our longtime volunteers and participating artists here.

Tickets to ArtWorks cost $50 and can be purchased online at www.therep.org or by contacting Ronda Lewis at (501) 378-0445 ext. 203. Get more information here.

The Rep’s Bob Hupp Directing Disfarmer for ACANSA Arts Festival

Mike Disfarmer

Mike Disfarmer

Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s Producing Artistic Director Bob Hupp is stepping out of the theatre and directing a special production Disfarmer for the first-ever ACANSA Arts Festival in central Arkansas this week.

The production, which is written by award-winning Arkansas playwright Werner Trieschmann, will premiere at 8 p.m. today (Sept. 25) at Argenta Community Theatre, 405 Main St, North Little Rock.

The production is a comedic portrait that tells the story of Mike Disfarmer, an eccentric photographer from Heber Springs, Ark., who charged townsfolk and visitors a quarter to have their picture taken in the early ’40s—and caused a minor mania decades later as New York gallery owners “discovered” his work and descended on the small Arkansas town.

Disfarmer will run every night through Saturday (Sept. 27). Showtime is at 8 p.m.

General tickets for the show are $30, with additional student and VIP options. Get ticket prices and purchase online here.

Get more information about the show here.

Clinton School Speaker Series with the cast of Henry V

Clinton School of Public Service Distinguished Speaker Series

Thursday, Sept. 6 | 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.
Clinton School of Public Service, 1200 President Clinton Avenue

This Thursday, join Rep Producing Artistic Director and Henry V director Bob Hupp as he hosts Avery Clark (Henry V), Nikki Coble (Princess Katherine), D.C. Wright (Fight Director) and Mitch Tebo (Archbishop of Canterbury ) from The Rep’s upcoming production of Henry V for a panel discussion on one of Shakespeare’s most famous history plays.

Call the Clinton School at (501) 683-5239 for reservations.

Avery Clark Returns to Arkansas Rep as King Henry V

“From his confrontation with the close friends who betray him to his wooing of the French princess, Henry V is such a compelling character,” says Rep Producing Artistic Director and Henry V Director Bob Hupp. “A young king, untested, driven by ambition, strives for redemption and power through the cauldron of war and redefines his world in the process.”

Avery Clark as Hamlet

Arkansas native Avery Clark most recently appeared in The 39 Steps in 2011 and as Hamlet in 2010, and will portray the young King Henry V in The Rep’s season opening production.

With the death of his father, young King Henry casts off the trappings of youthful misadventures and transforms into a leader of men. With his country wracked by strife, mocked by the French and eager to assert his birthright, Henry launches a rash invasion that culminates in the fateful battle of Agincourt. Weary and grossly outnumbered, the English face near certain defeat, but Henry’s inspirational leadership turns the tide of war and turns a man into a legend.

“The power of Henry V lies in its contradictions,” says Hupp. “Valor and cruelty, greed and generosity, honor and treachery. These contradictions make the play immediately accessible to a modern audience and help bring the characters to vivid life on the stage.”

NEA GRANT FOR HENRY V TO BENEFIT ARKANSAS STUDENTS

Arkansas Repertory Theatre is the only performing arts organization in Arkansas to receive this year’s Shakespeare for a New Generation grant from Arts Midwest. The Rep will offer its production of Henry V to more than 20 schools through student matinee performances over a three-week run, reaching more than 1,500 students across Arkansas. The Rep reached more than 5,000 students last season through its Student Matinee Program.

Henry V is politics, it is history, it is the human condition in extraordinary circumstances,” says Hupp. “To be able to explore these ideas with students across central Arkansas is a central objective of our work this fall. We look forward to bringing The Rep’s first foray into Shakespeare’s history plays to vivid life for audiences of all ages, and especially, with the help of this important grant, to enriching the experience for young audiences through a greater understanding of the creative, historical and cultural context of the play.”

Austin Pendleton to Revive Rare William Inge Play

The original version of William Inge’s A Loss of Roses will open on June 15 at Arkansas Rep. The revival will be directed by New York City director, playwright and noted film and stage actor Austin Pendleton.

“I discovered A Loss of Roses a few years ago. I thought: this is a forgotten beautiful American play, full of colorful people and rich, juicy humor, and full of tragedy,” says Pendleton. “Since I read it, I’ve wanted to do it. I’m thrilled a theatre as good as Arkansas Rep is letting me do it.”

Pendleton directed a staged reading of A Loss of Roses featured in TONGUES at New York’s Cherry Lane Theatre in 2010. Pendleton has served as artistic director of the Circle Repertory Theatre Company in New York and is an ensemble member of Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company.

Pendleton says several of Inge’s plays have been revived by theatre artists wanting to tackle the playwright’s well-made plays. However, A Loss of Roses has remained mostly on the shelf since it closed on Broadway in 1959. Arkansas Rep’s production will feature Jean Lichty as Lila Green, Jane Summerhays as Helen Baird and Bret Lada as Kenny.

“THERE’S SO MANY THINGS I STILL WANT BACK.”

In A Loss of Roses, Helen is a devout widow who cherishes the memory of her heroic husband above all else, even as her grown son, Kenny, struggles to fill his shoes and win his mother’s love. Lila is a beautiful but emotionally insecure actress who arrives on their doorstep without a job or direction, but with a lifetime of baggage. When Lila moves in, a love triangle is created that can only end in heartbreak when someone must break free – for love, from love or both.

Penned in the intimate style of Tennessee Williams, but with William Inge’s graceful insight into the lives of broken families, A Loss of Roses is a bittersweet romance about the loss of innocence which garnered a young Warren Beatty a Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actor in the 1959 Broadway production.

A CAUSE FOR CELEBRATION

“Bringing a rarely-produced work by William Inge to the stage is cause for celebration; doubly so when the creative team is led by Austin Pendleton,” says Rep Producing Artistic Director Robert Hupp. “He’s assembled a dynamic cast for this fascinating play. I am honored to introduce A Loss of Roses to a new generation of theatregoers and to re-examine Inge in the context of what he spoke of as his favorite among his many works.”

A Loss of Roses was William Inge’s first big setback after a string of critical and commercial successes with Bus Stop and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Picnic. The production was plagued by cast and script changes, earned poor reviews and closed after only three weeks on stage. Inge felt the play was one of his best, and was said to be stung by the criticisms. Arkansas Rep’s production will revive Inge’s original script, including the ending as Inge intended.

KUAR on The Rep’s Renovation, Ring of Fire

Photography by Guy Galloway

Take a listen as Ron Breeding talks with Rep Producing Artistic Director Bob Hupp and Ring of Fire Director Jason Edwards on the recently completed Rep Renovations and the season opener Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash.

Or you can read the article here.