As February approaches, also known as African American History Month, Reynolds Performance Hall brought Parks’ story to the stage Jan. 28 to present how one woman triumphed through persecution and discrimation to make a different.
The story of Rosa Parks and how it sparked the Montegomery Bus Boycott is one of the most well-known events to happen during the fight for civil rights within the African American Community.
“We are driven by the UCA mission and core values,” director of Reynolds, Amanda Horton, said. “Two of these core values are Intellectual Excellence and Diversity. We strive to bring performances that are educational and diverse for our students and [the] Central Arkansas Community.”
The Mad River Theater Company, based in Ohio, wrote and directed the show surrounding the circumstances in which Parks’ made the decision to sit down in a seat reserved for “whites only” on an Alabama bus. Mad River Theater’s website markets the show as one that “dispels myths about Parks and her protest” and “paints a portrait of [a] complex woman” as a “civil right leader.”
“That’s the point of the show, conversations,” said Horton. “Hopefully, [the] performance [grabbed] the interest of the student audience and they [went] back and discuss the content in their classrooms. We also provide a study guide in advance of the show that the teachers can use in their classrooms to introduces students to the stories they will see on stage.”
Donna Wilche, a counselor for Ida Burns Elementary School, as well as a community council member at Reynolds, allowed her students to attend the show to learn about Parks and the civil rights movement.
“UCA Reynolds shared the performance with our school, Wilche said. “We thought it was best suitable for fourth graders. [The students] talked about inequality and how wrong it was then and now.”
According to Horton, Reynolds strives to host what is called the “Main Stage Education Series.” The series allows Pre-K-12th schools the opportunity to attend day performances. For general audiences and UCA students who would also like to see the show, night performances for the general public are made available.
“[The students] enjoyed it,” Wilche said. “ We discussed her life and how black people were not given opportunities. [Students learned] one person can make a difference with the support of others.”
At the end of the day, Horton hopes that bringing the show to UCA inspired others to continue conversating about the civil rights movement and how it shaped America as we know it today.
“I hope that they realize how far we have come as a nation but also how we need to remember the past to ensure that we continue to grow,” Horton said.
As a part of their Main Stage Education Series, Reynolds is set to display a worldwide touring exhibit titled “Anne Frank – A History for Today,” from Feb. 10 through Feb. 21. The show, “The Diary of Anne Frank,” will open to the public Feb. 18 at 6 p.m. For more information about Reynolds’ educational shows, as well as for tickets to upcoming events, visit uca.edu/reynolds.