The play Ann begins its run at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre this week, with two preview performances before opening night on Friday, January 31. The play, which originally ran on Broadway in 2013, is about the life and legacy of Ann Richards, the 45th governor of Texas.
Will Trice is the Executive Artistic Director for the Arkansas Repertory Theatre. He spoke with KUAR about the play. A transcript of the aired conversation is below.
Trice: “It follows the life and legacy of Ann Richards who was governor of Texas and just a hilarious woman. An impactful woman. A brilliant woman and just one of those people that you want to spend time with like, just be in a room with and we’re very lucky here in Little Rock that she’s being portrayed by an equally hysterical, inspiring woman. A Tony Award winner and an Emmy nominee and Golden Globe nominee: Elizabeth Ashley.”
KUAR: “The show is more or less a one-woman show and that puts a lot of pressure on the lead. Can you talk to me a little bit about Elizabeth Ashley?”
“Oh. She is…the role is a tour de force, she is like a walking tour de-force herself, but so fun and so talented. She [has] such a rich history as a performer. She was in the original Barefoot in the Park on Broadway. She did the kind of legendary revival of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in the 70s. I got to work with her on Broadway on “The Best Man” the Gore Vidal play. She came in and took over for Angela Lansbury.”
"And, why was Ann picked to open this season?"
“I think a political subject matter is sort of fun right now, you know at least in terms of the primary season going on. I don’t know if it’s necessarily that fun in terms of all this impeachment stuff going on. But I think Little Rock has a really rich political history and a lot of sort of …lovers of government and politics and of southern politics in particular. I think Ann Richards in particular, just such a beloved figure in southern politics of recent years. And it’s fun. It’s a good way to...it’s always good to kick off with something that’s fun.”
"What do you mean by southern politics?"
“I think there’s something very distinct about southern politics in terms of the interaction between the two parties… between the democrats and the republicans and liberals and conservatives and blue cities in red states and vice versa. I think [there] can be really fascinating discussions [that] can come out of that in ways that they don’t necessarily happen in other parts of the country that are more, sort of, polarized and cornered off from one another. We’re all right in here together. Often our neighbors feel completely differently than we do, but we get along and we make a community out of it.”
"How is the show a tone setter for the rest of the season?"
“I think there’s principles behind anything that we do. The first one is that it’s a good time, that it’s a nice evening out. And then, sort of going from there, does it…does it inspire conversation? Does it make you think about your community and about the people in your lives. But, first and foremost, are you having a good time? Are you enjoying yourself? And I think all of the shows that we’re doing this season and in future seasons are first and foremost, let’s have fun.”