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History

 History of The Rep

Founded in 1976, the Arkansas Repertory Theatre is the state’s largest non-profit professional theatre company. A member of the League of Resident Theatres (LORT D), The Rep has produced more than 300 productions including 40 world premieres on its 385-seat MainStage and 99-seat black box SecondStage located in its historic building in downtown Little Rock.

Robert Hupp, Producing Artistic Director, leads a resident staff of designers, technicians and administrators in the creation of eight to ten productions for an annual audience in excess of 70,000 for MainStage productions, educational programming and touring.  The Rep employs guest artists from across the country to produce works - created, rehearsed and built in downtown Little Rock - ranging from contemporary comedies and dramas to world premieres to the classics of dramatic literature.

The Rep relies on season subscriptions, special events, foundation support, corporate and individual donations and funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and Arkansas Arts Council.  The Rep’s auxiliary group, Friends of The Rep, contributes time and energy to support the theatre through ushering, fundraisers, and organized events. The Rep receives local community support from more than 400 volunteers who usher for The Rep’s productions.

Frequently hosting civic groups such as the Little Rock Chamber of Commerce Leadership Institute and non-profits such as Urban Financial Developers, The Rep also serves as a co-producer on the Arkansas Bar Association’s Gridiron and frequently engages in co-productions with other regional theatres and local organizations such as the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and the Wildwood Park for the Performing Arts.

Educational and outreach programming has been integral to The Rep’s mission throughout its 31-year history. The Summer Theatre Musical Intensive brings children together for two-week sessions of musical theatre performances, cross-curricular study guides, and artist-to-student mentoring in workshops and arts-intensive residencies. Through statewide educational tours, a MainStage student matinee series, an apprenticeship program, residencies and workshops, The Rep’s outreach programs supplement and augment the students’ standard curriculum and offer skills and experiences that enhance creativity and the overall learning experience.

The Rep also maintains an ongoing residency at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, where the theatre provides co-curricular artistic guidance and support, classroom instruction, capstone internship experiences and extensive audience development programs for young people.

National attention comes to The Rep through several programs, including the Kaufman and Hart Prize for New American Comedy, one of the largest playwriting awards of its kind in the country that acknowledges and encourages the development of new comedic plays that have not received a fully produced professional staging.  In April 2007, the winner of the 2006 Kaufman and Hart Prize for New American Comedy, a performance titled Bertrand Priest by Ian Cohen, was produced and shown at The Rep’s MainStage.

The Rep was selected in 2003 by the National Endowment for the Arts to be one of only seven theatres participating in the first installment of its Shakespeare in American Communities initiative, the largest project launched by the NEA in its 39-year history and the largest tour of Shakespeare’s works in our nation’s history. This biennial Free Shakespeare in the State Parks program brings full productions to outdoor venues in areas with little or no access to professional arts programs.

The Rep brings Tony Award-winners and other nationally recognized artists to its stages, and is locally recognized as the Best Live Theatre and the Best Performing Arts Organization by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and Arkansas Times.