Missy Gipson

Missy Gipson

Actor, director, playwright, choreographer, mom, Pilot Arts founder

Q. Five years ago, what effect did you want to have on the arts in Northwest Arkansas and the River Valley?

A. I wanted to create great theater, and I wanted to do it with artists that live and work here. I wanted to give opportunities to people that are part of the lifeblood of this community — parents, business professionals, laborers, teachers, the list goes on — that need a place to shake the dust off their dreams and plug into their creative selves.

Q. How did that turn out?

A. Incredibly well. I started Pilot Arts, a community musical theater company, this past year. In that time we’ve showcased over 100 community artists — mostly adults with some youth — on our stage, 25 musicians in our pit, and eight sound and scenic designers. We have had over 2,500 audience members attend our inaugural season of “Footloose,” “Tuck Everlasting” and “Mamma Mia.” We also involved a local historical gem, the Arkansas Air and Military Museum, for our venue. There are so many talented people right here in Northwest Arkansas, and it’s so satisfying to sit in the audience and watch these incredible artists engage with each other and create together.

Q. How did Pilot Arts thing come about? What does it entail now?

A. I have always wanted more opportunities locally to direct musical theater. Once I decided I wanted to do it, all the chips fell into place. I wanted the name Pilot Arts because I think the process of creating theater is a terrific adventure. Once the company name was decided, I toured Drake Field Airport as a possible rehearsal and class space, and it was an ideal spot. The fact that Drake Field fit with the name and brand of Pilot Arts was just icing on the cake. From there, the Arkansas Air and Military Museum ended up being the perfect spot for our shows.

We are about to gear up for Season 2, opening with an original musical called “Ninjas,” [a family musical] my husband Chase and I wrote together. It’s in a class format for ages 8 to 14 that culminates in public performances in February. We will release audition dates for our spring mainstage musical on New Year’s Eve!

Q. What else have you added to your plate since 2014?

A. Most importantly, Hart, our third child. She was born in May of 2014. She’s a little ball of lightning who keeps us in love and on our toes.

Other than welcoming her, I have been fortunate to be named a part of the Society of Directors and Choreographers 2018 Observership class. It’s a program that provides directors opportunities to observe the work of master directors as they create shows (off and on Broadway, as well as regional theaters).

I’ve written a series of short plays for youth called “The REAL Story” series, taking well loved tales and twist and combine them with other stories. I also work with the Young Actors Guild in Fort Smith.

And I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in some terrific film work (as an actor) that has been shot in Arkansas and Oklahoma.

5. What do you want to accomplish over the next five years?

A. For Pilot Arts: I want to offer more opportunities for area artists to perform, design and create. My long-term goal is to become a professional company.

For the Young Actors Guild: I want to keep increasing the programs that YAG offers to area youth. It’s such an incredible organization for mobilizing confidence in kids, so any way I can help support that, I am in.

Personally: I want to become a stronger director by working with and observing other directors. There are so many great stories to be told, and I want to help tell them. I also enjoy acting whenever that’s possible.

— Becca Martin-Brown



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