Shakespeare lovers and fans of the Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre may pay tribute to "the Bard" and support the Conway-based performance group at the Bard Ball on Feb. 4.

The annual fundraising Ball will be held this year at the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion.

The location change, according to Executive Director Mary Ruth Morotte, is a deliberate move by the company to introduce themselves to the Little Rock area.

"It’s the Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre," Morotte said, placing the emphasis on ‘Arkansas.’ "While it’s located in Conway, we hope that it is something that can be celebrated by anyone in the region. We hope that it and Conway will become a destination for arts and culture in the region."

The Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre will hold its fifth season of summertime performances this year, beginning June 16 and ending July 3.

Morotte said the lineup for performances includes As You Like It, Othello, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and a children’s production, The Tortoise and the Hare.

The summer season will begin with an outdoor "Shakespeare in the park" performance of As You Like It in the Village at Hendrix green space, and end with performances in the new Argenta Community Theatre on Main Street in North Little Rock.

Morotte said that the theater is a smaller and more intimate space that is well-suited for Shakespeare.

Performances will be hosted by the University of Central Arkansas, as in the preceding seasons, at Donald W. Reynolds Performance Hall. 

The Bard Ball will feature live music, eclectic performances, mingling with AST actors, directors and artistic directors, and "a celebration of Arkansas artists and their love of Shakespeare."

The event’s entertainment, according to Morotte, will be centered around the individual artist’s experience with, or take, on Shakespeare.

Notable appearances, said Morotte, are Harry Thomason, producer and director along with his wife, Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, of the television series Designing Women and Evening Shade; Trenton Lee Stewart, author of the New York Times best-seller "The Mysterious Benedict Society"; filmmaker Graham Gordy, Greg Brownderville, Porter Prize winner and Stephen Feldman, cellist.

The event’s admission of $75 will go to the overall operating expenses for this upcoming summer’s season. 

Morotte said she hopes that the only professional Shakespeare theatre in the state is embraced by the area.

"It’s an amazing company and an amazing professional theatre in a city that is coming to be known for its arts and culture."

For tickets, contact Liz Parker at 501-450-3165, or visit

(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by e-mail at or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to Send us your news at