Trike On The Move: New season, new opportunities for children’s company

Trike On The Move: New season, new opportunities for children’s company
LARA JO HIGHTOWER/Special to the Free Weekly

There’s no doubt that 2020 was hard on arts organizations around the country. Some, like Bentonville’s Trike Theatre, Northwest Arkansas’ professional theater for children, were able to deliver their art in a way that sustained them despite the lack of in-person events. Trike Executive Director Paul Savas says that, because of some clever online programming, the theater continued to reach tens of thousands of children across the state.

“I expected that last season we would serve maybe 7,000 people,” says Savas. “A typical service year for Trike Theatre is over 30,000 impacted, and we did around 17,500 served last year. We did a really, really good job.”

That online programming included iCademy — a comprehensive slate of theater classes taught online instead of in person — and the 360 Trikesperience.

“[Founder] Kassie [Misiewicz] and the team designed this quite wonderfully,” says Savas. “It’s a number of pre-performance activities and interactions, some live with Trike talent and some recorded, and then a pre-recorded performance and post activities, mostly live with Trike staff. And that was through a lot of schools — we started in Pre-K and then bumped it up through second-graders because there was such an interest in it. God bless those teachers and kids, they were just so hungry for any kind of interaction outside of the classroom. So the 360 Trikesperience really got us through the pandemic.”

Trike offers a full slate of theater education classes — like the one shown here — and has even started a resident company for youth actors. “One of the things in the diversity-equity-inclusion work that we really want to do is, we always want to make sure that our constituents and the people who we are serving have a really important place at the table, and a really important voice in the decision making,” says Trike Theatre’s Executive Director Paul Savas. The newly established youth theater company is one way of doing that, he says. (The Free Weekly/Charlie Kaijo)

Savas says the program was designed with flexibility in mind: Today, it can be an in-person or virtual performance, depending on the various area schools’ requirements.

Perhaps the biggest addition to Trike’s post-pandemic offerings will be the theater trailer they very recently acquired, which allows them to deliver theater outside — a safer alternative to enclosed spaces in the age of covid-19.

“We can deploy it wherever we want, outside,” says Savas with enthusiasm. “There’s a door on the side of this trailer that folds up, like a gull wing and is supported, and then a stage is pulled out. Trike can pull up to schools, to civic centers, to community centers, to farmers’ markets, to fairs, and perform for families in a safe, outdoor environment. Right now, we’re working on sponsorships for it and getting it wrapped with sponsor tags, as well as with our logo. Hopefully, in the spring, you’ll see Trike’s theater truck at all sorts of events across Northwest Arkansas.”

This “culture caravan,” as Savas calls it, will help Trike with its mission of reaching all parts of Northwest Arkansas, he says.

“It really aligns with the ample amount of diversity, equity, inclusion and anti-racism work that we were doing. Because we want to, figuratively, meet people where they are in order to provide them with programming that they want. And this is something that literally allows us to do that. We literally can take any number of Trike properties and Trike titles and shows that we’ve been working on for so many years and designing and building — so that we can have a repertory of titles at our disposal — and put them in a van and a trailer and roll it to people. It’s a lot of a variety of ideas and initiatives coming together out of necessity.”

Another exciting program Trike has added is their Trike Resident Actor Company.

“It’s a group of young artists who are part of this company for the entire season,” says Savas. “Part of their responsibility is to be in four of these shows, either all of them together, or, as we like to do, cast them in age-appropriate roles with professional actors all around them so they get a real wonderful professional theater experience.”


Trike Theatre

2021-22 Season

“Peter/Wendy” (Oct. 22-30) — In this original adaptation of Peter Pan, audiences are immediately immersed in the familiar story. Everyone has a front row seat while Peter entices Wendy away from her nursery to the magical world of Neverland, where they both have grand adventures with Tinker Bell, Tiger Lily and the menacing Captain Hook.

“Best Christmas Pageant Ever” (Dec. 10-18) — A perennial crowd favorite, this hilarious Christmas classic tells the story of a church Christmas pageant infiltrated by the parish’s most difficult children: the Herdman kids.

“Digging Up Arkansas” (Jan. 22-Feb. 4) — Three Works Progress Administration workers have been sent to Arkansas to present its history to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Along the way, the train rocks some of their crates loose. Now everything is out of order and their notes are wet. Can they work together to re-write their presentation of Arkansas’ history using all of the items in the crates? Digging Up Arkansas is an educational play that uses artifacts, songs, stories and student participation to teach Arkansas history from the year 1000-1936.

“Alexander Who is Not, Not, Not, Not, Not, Not Going to Move” (March 11-19) — Alexander’s dad gets transferred to another city, and when Alexander learns he and his family will be moving, he immediately knows that he’ll hate it. He’ll hate it because he’ll never have a best friend like Paul again. And he’ll never have a great sitter like Rachel again. And he’ll never again have his soccer team or his car pool or kids who know him or… Anyway, he can’t bear to leave the people and places he loves, so he decides that he won’t move.

“Mariposa/Butterfly” (April 8-May 20) — Two neighbors live side-by-side in Texas. A low fence separates their gardens, but much more divides them from one another. One neighbor grows flowers; the other raises vegetables. One was born in the United States; the other, in Mexico. One speaks English; the other; Spanish. Their differences have kept them so far apart that if one predicts a sunny day, the other is certain of rain. Even the arrival of a caterpillar causes disagreement — until the resulting mariposa/butterfly and its eventual departure unites them in wonder, in sadness, and in a new understanding of the beautiful world they share.

Next Gen Project (May 13-21) — Trike Ambassadors, TRAC artists and their directors will work as an ensemble to create an original production from the ground up. They will explore multicultural theatre styles, theatrical devising methods, and diverse writing techniques.




WHAT — Trike’s first show of the new season, presented by their ambitious new student company

“In this lyrical, atmospheric interpretation of Peter Pan, Jeremy Bloom strips the familiar story down to its emotional essence,” reads a press release from Trike. Directed by Mollie Armour, the show features actors Matt Bragg, Uma Kyles, Evelyn Longwell, Addie Lundy, Grayson Reckner, Kate Rockwood and Caroline Sanders.

WHEN — 7 p.m. Oct. 22-23 and 29-30; 3 p.m. Oct. 23 and 30

WHERE — Trike Theatre, 902 S.W. Second St., Bentonville

COST — $15

INFO — 464-5084

Categories: Theater