Theatre Alumni and Students Bring Live 'Curbside Theatre' to Patrons During COVID-19

Emily Clarkson

ArkansasStaged has developed a brand-new exploration of what it means to perform live theatre. Conceived by Department of Theatre alumna Laura Shatkus, artistic director of ArkansasStaged, Curbside Theatre is a new spin on presenting live performance: you stay inside and the performers come to you. It's like delivery pizza, but better for the heart.

Curbside Theatre is a new play, written and performed by local theatre professionals Michael Bell, Mischa HutchingsKholoud Sawaf and Laura Shatkus, with contributions from Adrienne Dawes. In the tradition of past ArkansasStaged shows, this work will be presented for free and will be supported by donations from the community.

The play was inspired by the idea of a "theatrical care package" and the deep belief in the power of art to heal.

Given the need to adapt and change in the time of social distancing, the play is performed on curbsides, facing your front door, outside of your kitchen window, or in your backyard — always observing the rules of social distancing — with the goal of making you laugh, engaging your sense of wonder, and bringing you hope in absurd times.

Each performance will be customized and staged with your particular dwelling in mind through a pre-show consultation.

"Using the Moment Work devising technique, which we learned about from our connection to McIlroy Family Visiting Professor Moises Kauffman, in tandem with the devising work we started with our beloved professor of theatre Les Wade, we have been creating the play online with the intention of putting furloughed artists back to work providing live storytelling for our community," Shatkus said. 

As with many past ArkansasStaged productions, the show will rely on a coterie of University of Arkansas alumni and current graduate students. Shatkus, Hutchings and Sawaf are all graduates of the Department of Theatre's M.F.A. program and Dawes is currently completing her first year as a graduate student seeking an M.F.A. in playwriting. 

Shatkus said the play takes the audience on an whimsical, interstellar journey with a space traveller experimenting in the realms of the mind and the heart.

"Through dance, music, and the heroic hygiene of a fastidious clown, you'll be engaged in a new way of looking at the world," she said.

The piece is family-friendly but can be presented to only one household at a time, for best social distancing practices.

Thirty performances will be offered for free with a suggested donation to a tax-deductible online fundraiser. Reservations can be made virtually but will not go live until June.

For complete information and to sign up to learn more visit www.curbsidetheatre.com

About ArkansasStaged: ArkansasStaged is a collective of theatre artists working to bring staged readings and experimental/experiential theatre to life in the unique spaces of Northwest Arkansas. With an emphasis on women's voices, previous ArkansasStaged performances at the 21c Museum Hotel include Empanada Loca and readings of Squeamish, Natural Shocks, White Rabbit Red Rabbit, Dear Elizabeth, Collected Stories, Grounded, The Taming, Craving Gravy, Art and Venus In Fur. Other performances include An Old Woman Speaks and Lazarus Catering (at Stage 18), Gertrude Stein Plays Paris and Picasso At the Lapine Agile (at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art), Veils (at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Fayetteville) and Love Song (at Fayetteville Underground). The artists in the ArkansasStaged ensemble have worked professionally in theatre and film throughout the U.S. and abroad.

Contacts

Laura Shatkus, artistic director, ArkansasStaged
Department of Theatre
773-216-4607, arkansasstaged@gmail.com

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