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Black History program coming to Arkansas Repertory Theatre

The Arkansas Repertory Theatre

The Arkansas Repertory Theatre is celebrating Black History Month with a program that brings local history to the stage.

The new program, titled "PROUD!" celebrates African-American artistry in Arkansas. Tamra Patterson-Calamese is the director of community, learning, and public programs at the Rep. She says the show is designed to engage audiences of all ages.

“We used the curriculum that’s found in the Little Rock School District and we hired a curator to write an artistic piece based on the curriculum that the students are studying," Patterson-Calamese said. “Even as an adult you get a chance to learn things that maybe you didn’t realize in all your years of learning about the contributions of African-Americans to the great state of Arkansas. ”

She says the idea for the program came from a desire to create something entertaining as well as educational.

“We talk a lot about Ninth Street," she said. "I knew about Ninth Street in Little Rock, I knew that that was kind of the center of thriving African-American businesses, but I didn’t understand the fullness of how it was created.”

The program will run February 21-26. There are three matinee performances reserved for school audiences, and two performances for the public. Patterson-Calamese hopes audiences leave the theatre feeling inspired. 

“Even now what we’re saying is becoming history, and so we are a part of history. What are we going to do to make sure the impact that we’re leaving on history is a story that we want told and relayed, that provides growth and hope and inspiration for future generations.”

Performances of "PROUD!" are free thanks to grant funding from Entergy, the Windgate Foundation, and the Rebsamen Foundation. Schools interested in bringing students to the performance may also be eligible for transportation reimbursement assistance.

Tickets and more information can be found online.

Maggie Ryan is a reporter and local host of All Things Considered for Little Rock Public Radio.