Department: Theatre

Family show wraps up Summer Theatre season

July 14, 2014

The 60th anniversary season of Summer Theatre at Emporia State University ends with a beloved children’s show, “The Arkansaw Bear,” running July 23-26. Written by Aurand Harris, the play is celebrated worldwide as a sensitive and family-friendly depiction of life and death.   

Saddened and bewildered at her grandfather’s approaching death, Tish (Miranda S. Nation, junior, Winfield) runs to her “special tree.” There, in a world of fantasy that appears when she wishes on a star, she meets the world’s greatest dancing bear (Elliott Brest, junior, Tonganoxie). He is old, like her grandfather, and is running away — from death.

In trying to help him, she begins to understand the meaning of both life and death, which helps her to cope with her own sadness. The play blends realism and fantasy, pathos and humor. It is delightfully theatrical, with music, magic and dance, and enthusiastically applauded by children’s audiences and family audiences.

Other cast members are Aubrey Near (BA 2014, Independence), John Lloyd Stafford III (senior, Independence), Elliot Ford (5th grade student at Village Elementary School), Abbi Timmermeyer (freshman, Andover), Evan Eisenbarth (junior, Cassoday) and Andrew McCutcheon (senior, Gardner).

Last produced by ESU Theatre in 1987, “The Arkansaw Bear” is an important work by Aurand Harris, America’s foremost playwright for young audiences.  It is under the direction of Theresa Mitchell and the setting is designed by May 2014 alum Mark Warner (Salina).  Emily Kasprzak, the theatre director at Neosho County Community College in Chanute, is designing the imaginative costumes.  Emily is a 2009 graduate of ESU Theatre who earned her MFA from Michigan State University. 

Sparkling with entertainment while also dramatizing — with poignancy — a universal truth, “The Arkansaw Bear” runs July 23– 25 at 7:30 p.m. in King Hall.  The final performance will be a 2 p.m. matinee on July 26.  All performances are in the Karl C. Bruder Theatre in King Hall.  Individual tickets are available from the university box office at 620-341-6378. 

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