‘A Very Rich Experience’
Words are enough for ‘Collected Stories’
University of Arkansas assistant professor Morgan Hicks knows her way around large-cast theater productions. This spring, she directed “Assassins” for the UA and “The DingDong” for TheatreSquared. She also spent the summer coordinating the large-scale Arkansas New Play Festival, the Summer Academy for Young Adults and the AEGIS: Summer Stage project at TheatreSquared, where she is a co-founder and the director of education and program development. It’s no wonder she’s relaxing into her most recent project — the intimate drama “Collected Stories” by Donald Margulies, produced by ArkansasStaged at the 21c Museum Hotel in Bentonville.
A study of the relationship between an established, successful author and her protege, “Collected Stories” was a finalist for the Dramatists Guild Award for Best Play when it was produced off-Broadway in 1997.
“I’ve been working on shows with big ensembles or shows where actors play multiple roles a lot over the last several years, so I haven’t had a chance to work on a script like this in a while,” says Hicks of the two-person show. “This play — which features two amazing roles for strong actresses — is all about the relationship between two humans. We get to explore this amazing dynamic and watch it shift right before our eyes.”
Hicks says ArkansasStaged’s history of producing staged readings of cutting-edge scripts makes it a perfect launchpad for the show.
“This play is all about the relationship between these two actors,” she says. “We won’t need someone reading stage directions describing high theatricality to tell the story. I think that with a play like this, the audience will get a very rich experience by just being able to hear the words without any distraction.”
Founded in 2012, ArkansasStaged has spent this season as the theater-inresidence for the 21c Museum Hotel in Bentonville.
“I think having companies like ArkansasStaged and Artist’s Lab[oratory Theatre] and all of the other companies that come together to produce art are so important for our region,” says Hicks. “[People] love living here because we recognize that the artistry and talent of our community makes this place special. A company like ArkansasStaged is able to have a focused mission and is able to identify the exact type of conversation that they want to be sparking in the community. I have so much respect for Laura [Shatkus, artistic director of ArkansasStaged] and this company because of the passion that is the engine of the work.
“As we grow as a region with an appetite for theater, having more companies doing good work is good for our audiences — and good for our artists.”
Lisa (Emily Riggs of Fayetteville), from left, stage manager Celeste Richard of Fayetteville, director Morgan Hicks of Bentonville and Ruth (Lauren Halyard of Rogers) rehearse for the ArkansasStaged reading of “Collected Stories” at 21c Museum Hotel in Bentonville.