For Kassie Misiewicz, Trike Theatre founder and artistic director, choosing shows for the Bentonville-based theater's 12th season is inexorably linked to the reasons she started the company in the first place.
"My big goal has always been that I wanted to leave the world a better place than I found it," says Misiewicz, who is also a national arts integration consultant with Focus5 and a national teaching artist with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. "And I want to help bring people together. When I was in graduate school... I had the most amazing mentor out of Nashville Children's Theatre, Scot Copeland. One of the things he said is that as theater artists, we have such an important job -- to put the most honest and truthful story up on stage because our young people in the audience deserve it. They need to be able to see themselves and have their stories reflected in an honest and truthful way."
Where To Ride?
Trike Theatre performs at its own space (902 SW Second St., Bentonville), the Walton Arts Center (495 W. Dickson St., Fayetteville), and tours productions in the Northwest Arkansas area as well as nationally.
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The six shows of Trike's season do just that, says Misiewicz.
"That's where I think that Trike is so unique, because the stories that we perform on stage are uniquely for our young audience," she says, adding that she is so thrilled by the wealth of theater for young audiences that can be found in Northwest Arkansas.
"We love the fact that Arts Live Theatre does all this amazing youth theater and that the Walton Arts Center brings in all of these incredible performances from other places," she says. "It's like this tapestry of opportunities to see and do theater, and it's just incredible."
For Trike, this year the watchword is "sustainability," says Misiewicz. After 12 successful years, the theater is here to stay, and now, they're upping their accessibility.
"The plan over the next few years is to double the amount of people that we're serving or what we call 'points of engagement,'" she says. One way they plan to do that is by launching both local and national tours of their shows. "We're exponentially expanding the number of times that people engage with the arts."
"Dog's Job" by Bethany Lynn Corey -- Trike's first show of the season, part of its Little Trike series specifically aimed at children up to the age of 5, debuts in September.
"Phoenix is going to kindergarten, and he's so excited," says Misiewicz of the plot. "Phoenix has a dog named Bob who is really scared about Phoenix going to school. Bob doesn't know what his job is, and he feels like he's going to be lonely and scared. So Phoenix and Bob try to figure out what kind of jobs Bob can have." Like all Little Trike shows, the performance is interactive, and the audience can join in to help Bob find his purpose.
"Three Billy Goats Gruff" -- Adapted by Gwen Edwards and Matt Murry, this previously performed show is "back by popular demand" for October, says Misiewicz. "It's about friendship and the trolls getting along and learning to communicate with one another and is very interactive as well."
"Hurry Up...and Wait!" -- By Kathleen Fletcher and another popular show that is returning to the Trike Theatre stage, "Hurry Up" will be produced in November. "It's about two siblings, one who is having a very difficult time waiting for his flower to grow, and the older sibling who's helping him understand that you have to be able to wait -- you've got to have patience," says Misiewicz.
"A Year with Frog and Toad" -- By Robert and Willie Reale, based on the classic children's books by Arnold Lobel, this musical will be performed at the Walton Arts Center at the beginning of 2020. "It's the first time that a professional children's theater has done it here in Northwest Arkansas," says Misiewicz. "And I'm delighted, because most of our actors [will be] local. I love when we are able to really focus in our commitment to use as many local artists as possible so that we can continue to just to cultivate our talent here."
"Sideways Stories at Wayside School" -- By John Olive, adapted from the book by Louis Sachar, the second show in Trike's season to be performed at Walton Arts Center is a stage adaptation of the popular book by Sachar. The play, says Misiewicz, is a "wacky and funny" comedy meant for kids from the third grade up. "Kids love it. I'm talking to our third grade teachers in the Smart Residency Program, and they read it out loud every year because the kids just think it's hilarious."
"Tortuga and the Hair" -- Misiewicz says that Trike will collaborate with local Pre-K education experts and ESL educators to create a script that takes the classic turtle and hare myth and adapts it into a bilingual play. "We're just taking a look at how to devise a play that has whimsy and interactivity and fun," says Misiewicz, who adds that the script isn't written yet. "But our expectations are really high. The cool thing too is that there are so many people in this area who have a passion and a heart for this young audience, that age group. So we thought, 'Great, let's get everybody in the room together and then create something really magical and fun and immersive and interactive.'"
NAN What's Up on 08/11/2019