For two years in a row, the New York Times has recognized the annual Arkansas Shakespeare Festival in its pages. The Times, in fact, is right to keep tabs on the Festival, which takes place in The OA’s small hometown of Conway. A four-week rollercoaster-ride of bravado and wit and music that features A-list talent in four different plays, the Arkansas Shakespeare Festival is nothing short of a circus. This year’s plays are: an already acclaimed Twelfth Night, a children’s version (!) of The Tempest, a take-no-prisoners’ rendering of Richard III, and a musical adaptation of Huckleberry Finn called Big River, with music and words by Roy Blount’s favorite songwriter of the previous century, Roger Miller.
Here’s a schedule of the magical offerings.
William Shakespeare’s beloved comedy, this outdoor production by Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre is said to be outright hilarious. The show is a story of mistaken identities, with lots of tricks played on characters who at first we love to hate—though in the end, that changes.
Friday, June 15, and Sunday, June 17, at 7:30 pm at The Village at Hendrix
Friday, June 22, Saturday, June 23, and Sunday, June 24, at 7:30 pm at Wildwood Park
Bring a chair or blanket and bug spray!
This adaptation of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn features a new twist: music. In one scene, literature’s favorite vagrant sings:
Oh, I, Huckleberry, me
Hereby declare myself to be
Nothin’ ever other than
Exactly what I am.
And who would want him, or a production like this, any other way?
Friday, June 8 at 7:30 pm
Sunday, June 10 at 1:00 pm
Thursday, June 14 at 7:30 pm
Sunday, June 17 at 1:00 pm
Saturday, June 23 at 1:00 pm
Sunday, June 24 at 1:00 pm
Wednesday, June 27 at 7:30 pm
Friday, June 29 at 7:30 pm
Saturday, June 30 at 7:30 pm
*All Big River performances at Reynolds Performance Hall at UCA
Richard III tells the story with, impossible-to-top eloquence, of a corrupt duke who seeks to steal his brother’s throne at the end of the War of the Roses, and who will stop at no conspiracy, seduction, or act of brother-murder to attain it. As the Lady Anne says to Richard, “Villain, thou know’st no law of God nor man.” Featuring plenty of intense battle scenes for the visually inclined and passionate bouts of inward good versus inward evil for you literary types, this is the play.
Saturday, June 16 at 7:30 pm
Wednesday, June 20 at 7:30 pm
Thursday, June 21 at 7:30 pm
Thursday, June 28 at 7:30 pm
Sunday, July 1 at 1:00 pm
*All Richard III performances at Reynolds Performance Hall at UCA
Set on a magical island and chronicling a battle of revenge, The Tempest is Shakespeare’s version of Harry Potter meets Fantasy Island.
Wednesday, June 20 at 10:00 am
Friday, June 22 at 10:00 am
Saturday, June 23 at 10:00 am
Thursday, June 28 at 10:00 am
Friday, June 29 at 10:00 am
Saturday, June 30 at10:00 am
*All Tempest performances at Reynolds Performance Hall at UCA
Here are photos from the Big River cast party, held in the wonderful backyard and home of the Hemphill family in Conway, Arkansas.