TheatreSquared unveils lineup for tenth annual Arkansas New Play Festival

Two-weekend, two-city festival to feature five new plays, free events, and local craft beer

June 9–17, 2018 In Bentonville and Fayetteville

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art | TheatreSquared | The Record | The Preacher’s Son

NORTHWEST ARKANSAS — May 22, 2018 — TheatreSquared (T2) Artistic Director Robert Ford and Executive Director Martin Miller today unveiled the lineup of brand new plays for the tenth annual Arkansas New Play Festival, the state’s flagship showcase for new American stage plays. Performances are scheduled June 10-17 at TheatreSquared in Fayetteville and at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville. New works on tap include Among the Western Dinka by Russell Sharman, Black Book by Austin Ashford, Crossing the Mnisose by Mary Kathryn Nagle, Staging the Daffy Dame by Anne García-Romero, and Until Just Moistened: A One-Woman Play with Crumbs by Crescent Dragonwagon with songs by Bill Haymes.

Other special presentations will include the annual Young Playwrights Showcase, featuring short plays by Arkansas high school students, an encore presentation of Scratch That! by the NWA Latin/x Youth Theatre Project, and a special presentation of selections from Crossing Mnisose as part of the Museum of Native American History’s 2018 Native American Cultural Symposium at The Record in Bentonville.

Public performances will be held June 9-17, 2018, in the Great Hall at Crystal Bridges in Bentonville and at TheatreSquared, in residence at Walton Arts Center’s Nadine Baum Studios in Fayetteville. A limited number of all-access, two-weekend passes are available for $50, as well as single tickets ($10-15) for each event, at or (479) 443-5600. Passes also grant access to a special artists’ reception on June 15 at 6:30pm catered by Whole Foods.

“This 50-artist, two-weekend festival is our state’s rare opportunity to see and shape the next great American play. Like T2’s next stage, these works of art are under construction,” said T2 Artistic Director Robert Ford. “Through a dozen performances and events in Fayetteville and Bentonville, the Festival showcases bold new plays before their world premieres. It’s a perfect match for anyone who loves theatre and the craft of storytelling.”

“The Arkansas New Play Festival brings some of the most established and emerging playwrights on the national scene today to Northwest Arkansas to share their newest works with our community,” said Crystal Bridges Executive Director and Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, Rod Bigelow. “Crystal Bridges is excited to collaborate with TheatreSquared to support these living American artists in sharing their diverse perspectives and their artistic process.”

Patrons attending performances in Fayetteville can also enjoy a selection of free, Arkansas craft beers on tap for a truly “made local” closing weekend. New releases from the fast-growing local Northwest Arkansas beer scene will be on hand before the show, at intermission, and during post-show conversations with the playwright, director and cast.

The 2018 Arkansas New Play Festival is supported by a $30,000 Art Works grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. The Art Works category focuses on the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and the strengthening of communities through the arts.  “It is energizing to see the impact that the arts are making throughout the United States. NEA-supported projects, such as this one at TheatreSquared, are good examples of how the arts build stronger and more vibrant communities, improve well-being, and increase the quality of our lives,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu.

Additional key support for the Festival comes from the the Happy Hollow Fund of the Fayetteville Area Community Foundation, and Barbara Shadden, in memory of Harry Shadden.

Festival Lineup

Unless otherwise noted, all performances are presented in rehearsed staged reading format with a professional cast.

Among the Western Dinka
by Russell Sharman
Roland Cole, eminent historian and chair of the African Studies program at a rural state university, is caught up in a scandal involving the creation of fake classes to pass star athletes. He must choose between his dean’s advice to do what is best for the university, and his daughter’s urgent call to fight for his students and dismantle a system he himself may have helped to create. A play about race, class, college football—and the marriage practices of the Western Dinka. Performs Sunday, June 10, 2pm, at Crystal Bridges and Saturday, June 16, 3pm, at TheatreSquared.

About the Playwright: Russell Leigh Sharman is a writer, filmmaker and anthropologist. His play, The Small of Her Back, was produced by Jaradoa Theater Company Off Off Broadway and later adapted for screen. He has worked as a writer for various studios and production companies, including Warner Bros., Fox, and Disney, among many others. He has written and directed a number of short films and documentaries that have screened across the United States and around the world. He has a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from Oxford University. He lives, writes and teaches in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Black Book
by Austin Ashford
Freshly returned from multiple national recognitions at the 2018 Kennedy Center ACTF, Austin Ashford, writer of 2017’s I(sland) (T)rap, presents his newest one-person play: a tour-de-force dramedy at the intersection of Speech and Debate. At Tolson High School, students are reeling from a recent incidence of violence—and a former Great Debater has arrived to teach a master class on public speaking.  Performs Sunday, June 10 at 11am at Crystal Bridges and Sunday, June 17, at 1pm at TheatreSquared.

About the Playwright: Austin Ashford returns to TheatreSquared, having recently appeared in All The Way, The Champion, and T2’s Arkansas Schools Tour with his one-person play, I(sland) (T)rap, which was also featured at the 2017 Arkansas New Play Festival. In 2018, he received the Harold and Mimi Steinberg National Student Playwriting Award, the Hip-Hop Theatre Creator Award, and earned a certificate for Distinguished Achievement by the Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award for I(sland) (T)rap. He has earned 21 national titles in Forensics in such events as dramatic interpretation, poetry interpretation, prose interpretation, and impromptu speaking. He holds the three-year running title 'Most Valuable Performer' from the Denzel Washington/Melvin B. Tolson Forensics Society. He was also the winner of HBO's Brave New Voices—Individual World Poetry Slam. Originally from Oakland, Calif., he holds a BA from Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, and is an MFA candidate in acting at the University of Arkansas.

Crossing Mnisose
by Mary Kathryn Nagle
Sacajawea’s face sits on the U.S. dollar coin, but few know her full story as she guided the U.S. Corps of Discovery up the Mnisose (or what Europeans named the "Missouri River"). In 2017, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers granted an easement to allow a pipeline to cross the very same river. Although 212 years separate these controversial crossings, both reveal the continued survival of Tribal Nations in the face of colonial conquest. Crossing Mnisose draws a line from Lewis and Clark's historic encampment at Fort Mandan to the present day, as descendants of the Dakota and Lakota Nations continue their fight to ensure that the Mnisose, and the lands that contain the burials of their ancestors, are preserved for future generations.

Performs Thursday, June 14, 7:30pm at TheatreSquared. Selections will also be featured on Friday, June 15, 4:00pm, The Record in Bentonville, for attendees of the 2018 Native American Cultural Symposium.

About the Playwright: Mary Kathryn Nagle has successfully pursued two careers, both as a lawyer and as a nationally recognized playwright. Born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, she is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, and an honorary member of the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska. Her plays include Miss Lead (Amerinda, 59E59), Fairly Traceable (Native Voices at the Autry), Sovereignty (Arena Stage), and Manahatta (developed at The Public Theater and premiering this summer at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival). In 2019, the Rose Theater (Omaha, Neb.) will produce her new play Return to Niobrara, and Portland Center Stage will produce the world premiere of Crossing Mnisose after its workshop here at the Arkansas New Play Festival.

Staging The Daffy Dame
by Anne García-Romero
In the present, on the campus of a California public university, Lupe, a Latinx theatre professor, directs a production of the 1613 Spanish Golden Age comedy, La Dama Boba (The Daffy Dame), by Lope de Vega. Personalities collide onstage and off as the company grapples with the issues of race, class, and gender raised by the play. As opening night approaches, national politics begin to invade the personal lives of the company, and they begin to wonder: will love help them overcome differences and find a new kind of knowledge? Performs Sunday, June 10, 5pm at Crystal Bridges and Friday, June 15, 7:30pm at TheatreSquared.

About the Playwright: Anne García-Romero’s plays include Provenance (Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference), Paloma (National Latino Playwriting Award runner-up), Earthquake Chica (National Latino Playwriting Award finalist), Mary Domingo (Goodman Theatre Commission), Mary Peabody in Cuba (National Latino Playwriting Award finalist), and many others. Her plays have been developed and produced Off Broadway and at regional theatres across the country. She has adapted her play Mary Peabody in Cuba, for screen with actor/director/producer, Andy Garcia. She holds an MFA in playwriting from the Yale School of Drama, a PhD in theatre studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and currently is an associate professor in the Department of Film, Television and Theatre at the University of Notre Dame.

Until Just Moistened: A One-Woman Show with Crumbs
by Crescent Dragonwagon, with songs by Bill Haymes
Living, love, loss, and cornbread. Bestselling author and James Beard Award-winner Crescent Dragonwagon mixes all four in her brand-new one-woman show, featuring live music by her old friend Bill Haymes. Melding original stories, music, and history, ingredient by ingredient, in three short acts, Dragonwagon travels with audiences on a provocative, thoughtful, redemptive, funny, happy-sad journey about reinvention, myth, friendship, corn, grief, and breaking cornbread with those you love.

In partnership with Ropeswing Group in Bentonville, T2 will kick off 2018 festival performances with a limited-seating staged reading of Ms. Dragonwagon’s new play at The Preacher’s Son in Bentonville — complete with a serving of the restaurant’s specialty blue cornbread.

Saturday, June 9, 1pm, The Preacher’s Son, Bentonville
Presented with a serving of cornbread. Passholders must reserve seats in advance.  

Saturday, June 16, 7:30pm, TheatreSquared
Sunday, June 17, 4:00pm, TheatreSquared
Passholders must reserve seats in advance.

About the Playwright: Crescent Dragonwagon, who lived in Eureka Springs, Arkansas for 32 years before moving to Vermont, is a New York native. Primarily known for her children’s books (like the Coretta Scott King Award-winner, Half a Moon and One Whole Star), novels (like the New York Times Notable, The Year It Rained) and cookbook-memoirs (like the James Beard Award-winning Passionate Vegetarian). With her late husband, Ned Shank, and her creative collaborator, Bill Haymes, she co-owned Dairy Hollow House, a country inn in Eureka Springs. There, she prepared thousands of skillets of the cornbread at the heart of this show. Until Just Moistened is Dragonwagon's first play—but a lifetime in the making.

Arkansas Young Playwrights Showcase
Featuring Scratch That! by the Latin/x Youth Theatre Project

TheatreSquared is proud to present, for the seventh year, the Arkansas Young Playwrights Showcase. This year, T2 will feature two original short student works as well as an encore performance of Scratch That!, a devised theatre piece by the Latinx Youth Theatre Project. The LYTP promotes literacy, performing art, and other projects that focus on giving a voice to the Latin American community in Northwest Arkansas. Their inaugural work, Follow Me @ Tio Sam, was featured in the 2017 Arkansas New Play Festival. The group has received support for its work from the  Walton Family Foundation, University of Arkansas Brown Chair of Literacy, Arts Center of the Ozarks, and Northwest Arkansas Community College. Performs Saturday, June 16, 11am at TheatreSquared. Free admission.

Performance Schedule

1:00pm – Until Just Moistened: A One-Woman Play with Crumbs (The Preacher’s Son)

11:00am – Black Book (Crystal Bridges)
2:00pm – Among the Western Dinka (Crystal Bridges)
5:00pm – Staging the Daffy Dame (Crystal Bridges)

6:30pm – Artists’ Reception (T2)
7:30pm – Crossing Mnisose (T2)

4:00pm – Selections from Crossing Mnisose (The Record in Bentonville)
Free admission to attendees of the 2018 Native American Cultural Symposium

7:30pm – Staging the Daffy Dame (T2)

11:00am – Young Playwrights Showcase (T2)
Featuring NWA Latinx Youth Theatre Project’s Scratch That!

3:00pm – Among the Western Dinka  (T2)
7:30pm – Until Just Moistened: A One-Woman Play with Crumbs (T2)

1:00pm – Black Book (T2)
4:00pm – Until Just Moistened: A One-Woman Play with Crumbs (T2)

Ticket & Pass Information

Tickets are $10 (readings), $15 (workshops), or free (Young Playwrights Showcase, Crossing Mnisose at The Record), with all-access passes granting admission to 12 events available for $50.  Tickets are available at (479) 443-5600 or online at

Through T2’s Lights Up! For Access program, supported by the Walmart Foundation, SNAP benefit recipients and patrons under the age of 30 can purchase $5 tickets to any New Play Festival performance or $25 New Play Passes. For more, visit

Subscriptions to TheatreSquared’s upcoming 2018/19 season are also now on sale. Six-play packages are available for purchase at or (479) 443-5600, beginning at $97 for the Preview Saver Series.

About T2

TheatreSquared is Northwest Arkansas’ professional regional theatre, offering an intimate live theatre experience for 45,000 patrons each year in its home venue and in schools throughout the state. TheatreSquared was recognized by the American Theatre Wing, founder of the Tony Awards, as one of the nation’s ten most promising emerging theatres. TheatreSquared has experienced remarkable growth in recent seasons, expanding its audience tenfold in the past five years. The theatre is currently engaged in construction and a capital campaign for its future, 50,000-square-foot home, with designs and more information available at For further information or press tickets, contact TheatreSquared at (479) 445-6333 or visit


The 2018 Arkansas New Play Festival is made possible with lead support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Mid-America Arts Alliance, the Happy Hollow Fund at Fayetteville Area Community Foundation, and by Barbara Shadden, in memory of Harry Shadden.

Major funding for TheatreSquared Season 12 is provided by The Walton Family Foundation, Inc.; by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation; by the Walmart Foundation; by the Willard and Pat Walker Charitable Foundation; by the Shubert Foundation; by the Windgate Charitable Foundation; by the Arkansas Arts Council, an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage; and by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Major marketing support for TheatreSquared Season 12 is provided by the Fayetteville Advertising and Promotions Commission. Media sponsors include Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Fayetteville Flyer, Cox Communications, KNWA, AMP Sign & Banner, CitiScapes, KUAF, and Mailco USA.

Roland Liwag