After a two-year hiatus, the Arkansas Shakespeare Theater (AST) returns for the summer of 2022 with one of the bard’s most beloved works, “Much Ado About Nothing.”

“Much Ado About Nothing” will be performed at the University of Central Arkansas’ Bridges Larson Theatre in the Snow Fine Arts Center on June 23-25, June 30 and July 1.

Times are listed below:

June 23-24 at 7:30 p.m.

June 25 at 2 p.m.

June 30 and July 1 at 7:30 p.m.

July 2 at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at https://uca.university tickets.com/w/event.aspx?id=1503

AST is the state’s only professional Shakespeare company and makes its home on the UCA campus. Traditionally, AST would present full productions of Shakespeare’s works, as well as other plays and musicals that help fulfill AST’s mission to entertain, engage and enrich the community each summer. Due to COVID-19, AST canceled its 2020 and 2021 seasons.

“We are so excited to be bringing Shakespeare and professional theatre back to campus this summer. AST has been an integral part of the arts community in central Arkansas since 2007,” Shauna Meador, executive managing producer of AST, said. “While the two-year hiatus has been a huge disappointment, it has also given us a chance to reflect, reimagine and build new connections. As we look forward, we are focused on strengthening our professional theatre foundation, building on our educational mission, and leading and participating in the growth and expansion of the arts in central Arkansas.”

The return of the festival also brings a new partnership with the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. AST intends to capitalize on the phenomenal talent and existing resources within the state by taking advantage of the U of A’s graduate performance and design students, as well as talented faculty.

Michael J. Riha, chair and professor of theatre, says engaging professionals from across the state is a great way to encourage unification.

“We are grateful to play a role in building the theatre community right here in Arkansas,” Riha said.

“Much Ado About Nothing” will be performed at the Global Campus Theatre at the U of A from June 16-18. Times and the ticket information can be found at http://uarkartstickets.com/

“Much Ado About Nothing” will be directed by Stacey Pendergraft, associate professor in the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Department of Theatre Arts and Dance. Pendergraft has previously been seen performing on the AST stage in the “Merry Wives of Windsor,” “Fiddler on the Roof,“ “Love’s Labour’s Lost” and “The Music Man.”

“‘Much Ado About Nothing’ will transport audiences to the cultural oasis of Messina, a crossroads of Spanish, North African and Italian influences,” Pendergraft said. “Don Pedro and his band of men arrive at the lush court of Leonato, encountering love, the high-spirited wit and exacting lessons of the women who are its driving force.”

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