University Theatre adds new dance concert to season

University Theatre adds new dance concert to season

University Theatre is back and in a big way, says Michael Riha, chairman of the University of Arkansas Department of Theatre. Not only are there six shows on the 2022-23 schedule — five of them on the University Theatre main stage after two years of various efforts to work around covid-19 — but for the first time in more than 30 years, the University Theatre will be home to a dance concert.

“We did have a full season last year, but we didn’t charge for any tickets,” Riha explains. “The season was quite successful, so this year we went back to our typical structure of offering tickets to our community patrons at an affordable price.” Season ticket packages range from $90 for adults to $68 for seniors to $23 for non-UA students.

“Over the past five years, the interest and growth in dance has been incredible,” Riha adds about the dance concert addition. “We have doubled the number of seats in dance courses and hope to continue exploring ways to provide dance opportunities for the students here at the UA. It also provides our design students a unique way to look at expanding their resume and design portfolio. We hope to make the dance concert an annual event that our students and audiences look forward to for years to come.”

Beyond that, he says, “we are excited to be working on ‘real’ productions where our student artists are collaborating in the same room and creating meaningful relationships as theater artists. The pandemic was not an equal opportunity offender — meaning, actors and writers were able to continue working on their craft privately and in isolation by holding online readings and productions. This was not the case for designers. Even though we did have some design elements for a few online productions, creating scenery and costumes was limited to a handful of opportunities. Also, the frame of a computer screen is much different and demands an entirely different level of skill — theater is not film and film is not theater! Due to covid, we extended the current company of MFA candidates to a fourth year to allow them the opportunity to experience ‘live’ theater.”

Riha reminds both students and patrons that “live theater without an audience is simply rehearsal.”

“Although rehearsals are wonderful, the act of live theater is rooted in a communal sharing of emotions,” he says. “When actors and audience members are in the same room, something magical happens. We all feel it. We all experience it.

“When I try to explain it to my students, I use an analogy of live music as opposed to listening to an ‘album,’” adds Riha, who is also a musician. “The same songs could be heard in both examples, but when someone attends a live performance, the energy it takes to be a part of that live experience is far more engaging and interactive than it is when we sit in a comfortable chair and listen to eight to 10 songs back to back. The exchange of energy is measurable in so far as one can leave a concert exhausted from the exchange of energy.

“The same can be said about live theater. An audience member is asked to be a part of the exchange of energy between performer and audience member. We are engaging our imaginations the entire time we attend a live theater production … We are engaged in a ‘contract’ of sorts with the performers. An audience is crucial to the life of live theater.”



University Theatre

2022-23 Season

“This Bitch: Esta Sangre Quiero” — By M.F.A. playwright Adrienne Dawes with music by Eric Johnson, directed by guest director Estefanía Fadul, Sept. 30 to Oct. 9 at University Theatre.

When Diana, a ruthless and power-hungry Pilates influencer, learns that her social media manager Teodoro is hooking up with her makeup artist Madeinusa, it sparks bitter jealousy. Even though it would be social suicide for her to date someone with zero followers, Diana finds herself falling hard for the smooth-talking Teodoro … but if she can’t have him, no one can!

“God of Carnage” — By Yasmina Reza, directed by M.F.A. candidate Huan Bui, Nov. 11-20 at University Theatre.

Two high-strung couples meet one evening for a civil conversation concerning a playground altercation between their young sons. As the rum freely flows, what starts out politely and politically correct becomes pugilistic and anything but correct. A comically explosive look at the complexity of human behavior and what happens when the gloves come off.

Rebirth: An Evening of Dance — Dec. 2-4 at University Theatre. The Movement, Dance for the Masses and the Department of Theatre will produce the first dance concert at the UA in more than 30 years.

“Hedda Gabler” — By Henrik Ibsen, adapted by Christopher Shinn, directed by M.F.A. candidate Lacy Post, Feb. 17-26, 2023, at University Theatre.

Hedda Gabler, one of drama’s most iconic and enigmatic characters, is intelligent, self-possessed and restless in her new marriage as she discovers her options narrowing and her daily routines suffocating. Can the strong-willed Hedda break free and take control of her own journey, or do the limitations and expectations society places on young women leave her forever the passenger?

Untitled Nursing Play — By M.F.A. playwright Sarah Loucks, directed by professor Amy Herzberg, March 3-12, 2023, at the Global Campus Black Box Theatre.

From hematomas to mimosas, this new play explores the lives of five sophomore pre-nursing students taking a human anatomy class. On consecutive Sunday afternoons, they gather in the library to chug Red Bull and study the anatomy of the body, all while navigating the anatomy of a changing world.

“Songs From A New World” — Directed by professor Morgan Hicks, April 14-23, 2023, at University Theatre.

The first musical from Tony Award winner Jason Robert Brown (“Parade,” “Bridges of Madison County”), this moving collection of powerful songs examines life, love and the choices that we make.

Individual tickets are $5-$20 at

Categories: Theater