ArkansasStaged Production Explores ‘What Makes Art, Art?’

ArkansasStaged Production Explores ‘What Makes Art, Art?’
Artwork by Gustav Carlson

Artwork by Gustav Carlson

From the theatre company that brought you Venus In Fur comes Art, a play that delves into what makes something worthy of being called “art.”

ArkansasStaged is a collective of homegrown theatre artists who bring contemporary plays to life at various unorthodox locations throughout Northwest Arkansas. The company specializes in staged readings, which feature a minimalist approach in set and costume and actors have script in hand.

The newest ArkansasStaged production, a staged reading of Art by Yasmina Reza, will start at 21c Museum Hotel on Sunday, July 10, 2016, at 7 p.m. in Bentonville, Ark. The performance is free with a suggested donation of $3.

In Art, three friends argue to answer one of the toughest questions surrounding contemporary art: What makes it worth it? Reza’s critically acclaimed play uses a minimalist approach for set and costume to shine a major spotlight on rich dialogue and the art in question.

As they debate the importance of aesthetic versus market value, they also test the sum of their friendship, dwelling on questions such as: Is taste definitive of a person? Can people of opposite tastes maintain a true relationship?

nLocal painter Jonathan Suit will be creating an original artwork to be used as a set piece for the performance and will even be for sale following the performance.

“It’s kind of a meta meta thing for the play, and he’s really excited to be a part of this,” said Laura Shatkus of ArkansasStaged.

Art features actors Brian McCue, Bryce Kemph and Robert Hart and is directed by Jason Shipman.

“Yasmina Reza and George Hamilton, who translated the play, created three really diverse characters,” Shipman said. “It’s a fascinating and powerful thing to watch any character go through some sort of arc or journey, and here we get three characters who really go through something like that. She balanced that succesfully in a lot of ways. You’ll find in other three character plays, one of them falls short.”

The play’s inspiration stems from a conversation Reza had with a friend of hers who was a modern art collector in the early 90s. He had shown her what’s considered a modern masterpiece, and she thought it was a piece of junk. They laughed at their difference in opinion and perspective, and this inspired her to explore that through theatre.

The setting of 21c in Bentonville makes for a perfect backdrop for the play, Shipman said.

“The idea of what art is or where it’s headed and what it’s doing I think it will always be a topic of conversation,” Shipman said. “A major goal in where we’re doing it in the 21c museum in Bentonville is to create an interesting dialogue about the art that’s on display. For how many people who live here it’s impressive the amount of good quality work that’s available here. To assist in that dialogue, what better place than a modern hotel and restaurant?”

For complete information, visit:

Art, by Yasmina Reza

When: Sunday, July 10, at 7 p.m.,approximately 90 minutes

Where: 21c Museum Hotel: 200 NE A Street, Bentonville, AR 72712

How Much: Free, (suggested donation of $3).

More info

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