New Story, Different Cast, Fresh Material For Arkansas Adventures


Heaven Frias

Emily Schick and Bailey Bradford, seniors, confer about script changes during one of the many rehearsals for Arkansas Adventures.

Anna Reynolds, Staff Writer

The cast of Arkansas Adventures rehearses several hours nearly every day after school to create a traveling show that will be performed for several elementary schools in Arkansas. At the school, they have morphed Babb’s hall into a small theater.

It is there that the magic begins.

The directors this year are Emily Schick and Bailey Bradford, both seniors. Bradford has been doing Arkansas Adventures for three years, while this is Schick’s second year.

Schick said this year, there were “no actors portraying kids.” In previous years, the stories told through Arkansas Adventures were meant to teach young students about the history of Arkansas and have usually revolved around child characters that go on adventures to understand the history of Arkansas.

Schick and Bradford laughed as they recalled Schick playing a child in the show the previous year. This year, there aren’t any child characters, though there is a teenage girl, one of the main characters. Schick also said that this year, it would be “more presentational than representational.”

Each year, Arkansas Adventures has a theme of some kind. This year, it’s circus-themed. Instead of the actors living through the historical events in the stories they’re telling as in previous years, they are performing them.

The two main characters, the ringmaster and his teenage daughter, narrate some of the stories as other performers act out the stories through clownish and acrobatic tricks. Melody Small, one of the performers, said that she’d been doing Arkansas Adventures for “about a week.”

Small, a freshman, was voted to be the ninth grade drama representative. She said, “I’ve never done this before, but so far I think it’s going really well, and we’ve made a lot of progress.”

Small has acted on the stages of Arkansas Repertory Theatre and Murry’s Dinner Playhouse, but said, “this is different from all of [the other shows I’ve done] because we’re starting from complete scratch with no script.” That’s right– no script.

Every year, Arkansas Adventures is rewritten from scratch by the directors. This is because every year, they tell different historic tales about Arkansas.

For weeks, the directors research and plan what historical stories they want to use, and by the first rehearsal, each story has a page of information for the actors to experiment with. They split them up into groups and let them work with the stories, mixing and matching different pieces and versions to create the final products that will be presented to the elementary students when they go on tour.

Spencer Sutterfield, the drama department chair, has been here since Schick and Bradford were freshmen, so he’s had a chance to see them both grow as actresses and writers. He said that  he’s enjoyed watching them go from actors to the leaders in the creation of this year’s show. He also directed the first Arkansas Adventures that Schick and Bradford participated in. “It’s been really cool to work with them in [their] capacity as director and playwright,” Sutterfield said.

Bradford said directing this year was “more fun and more work. We don’t just go to rehearsal and go home. We spend hours every night just working on the script and talking to each other.”

Schick said it’s “fun trying to see the overall picture and make things connect.” They both enjoy the challenge of looping the stories together to make the show flow and are excited for the final product to be showcased.

Small is confident that the cast will be ready by the time the show is scheduled to tour and is excited for the opportunity to work with everyone. She had this final thing to say about being cast: “I think it’s an honor and I’m really excited to be a part of it.”