ATU Theatre Presents First Show of Fall 2018

Arkansas Tech University Theatre will offer three performances of a children’s play written by ATU student Tanner Williams at the Techionery Theatre during the month of October.

“The Playground King” tells the story of a boy named King John who loses his kingdom — his school playground during recess — to Luke, a classmate who believes he is better suited to lead.

Performances are scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 5, 7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 6, and 2 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 7.

Tickets, $5 for adults and $3 for students, will be available at the door at Techionery Theatre, 1502 North El Paso Ave. in Russellville.

Williams is a senior elementary education major from Hot Springs.

“I wrote ‘The Playground King’ to show the world as children see it,” said Williams. “Everything they encounter is so real and important to them, even if it seems silly in hindsight. Using my own experiences as a child, as well as my observations doing student teaching for my elementary education degree, I hope I have made a story that is timeless for young and old audiences alike.”

Stephanie Freeman, visiting lecturer in communication and theatre, is directing the show. She holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in theatre from West Virginia University.

“I am so excited to be a part of bringing this very joyful, very funny play to the Techionery stage,” said Freeman. “As young adults portraying children, our actors will be working as a tightly-knit ensemble…running, jumping, climbing and scheming on a fantastically detailed playground castle set that will charm audience members of all ages.”

ATU students Jack Button of Springdale, Cannon Cobb of Pottsville, Shaylen Davis of Russellville, Caleb Foshe of Farmington, Maddie Geels of Clarksville, Joel Reyes of Rogers and Ashlin Trahan of Clarksville perform in starring roles.

“I am excited to be in a show that fights for equality,” said Geels. “The rules on the playground become more well-rounded as the play goes on.”

Geels added that “being able to portray a successful woman in power” was her favorite aspect of her role.

Andrew Egan of Gamaliel, Gracie Folks of Harrison, Chelsea Mattas of Ozark and Emily Porterfield of Bismarck also have on-stage roles in the production.

Avery Coonts, theatre arts techical supervisor in the ATU Department of Communication and Journalism, is serving as technical director for “The Playground King.”

Students lending their expertise behind the scenes include Holly Wilmon of Bauxite, assistant director; Chloe Charton of Ola, stage manager; Faith Spencer of Clarksville, scenic designer; Robert Warner of Little Rock, lighting designer; Lauren Duran of Russellville, costume designer; Abraham Zarate of Russellville, sound designer; and Cobb, assistant scenic designer.

“I like how versatile the aspects of the set will be for the actors,” said Spencer. “It will include varying ways of travel throughout the set, but still simultaneously forming a cohesive set that matches what the director wants. This is definitely something new. It’s on a bigger scale than previous shows, almost a grand design. Once outside people see that we can perform with more extravagant designs, they will be more inclined to do bigger and more popular shows more often, therefore helping the theatre program grow.”

Dr. David J. Eshelman, professor of communication, is director of the ATU theatre program.

“Every vibrant art form is based on original work,” said Eshelman. “For instance, the famous singers of today don’t just put out remakes. I am proud that ATU does what it can to move the field of theatre forward.”

There are plans for “The Playground King” to be performed at several local elementary schools in addition to the public performances at ATU.

For more information about the show or the ATU Department of Communication and Journalism, call (479) 964-0890.

This article made possible through the efforts of Ashlin Trahan, ATU student majoring in journalism and theatre.

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