A partnership among Walton Arts Center, Trike Theatre and The New School is bringing the production Bear State of Mind to life for Northwest Arkansas school children today through Friday, October 9. Bear State of Mind is an original curriculum-based play that supports students’ understanding, respect, and knowledge of facts about Arkansas. It was developed through collaborative storytelling between Trike Theatre and Walton Arts Center artists. The story of Bear was adapted by Arkansas playwright Ashley Edwards. Original music and lyrics were composed by Arkansas singer-songwriter Shannon Wurst. Actors from Trike Theatre appearing in the play are Shannon Wurst, Jason Suel and Julie Gabel.

Bear State of Mind is a uniquely staged performance with the audience onstage with the actors. The audience sits on sleeping bags within a circular setting that suggests a campsite. As children take their seats, sounds of the natural world, bugs and insects are audible. This innovative immersive theatrical experience evolved from the fact that young learners are more attentive when allowed to move and imagine. The interactive experience invites the audience to move their bodies as they follow along with the play’s action.
Trike’s Artistic Director and founder Kassie Misiewicz notes, “Young people today are tethered to electronics. Bear State of Mind offers a unique creative experience where children are engaged, collaborating and participating in a storytelling process. This interactive and beautifully theatrical experience is the hallmark of Trike's Theatre for Young Audiences. We strive to develop plays that respect and are inspired by the imagination of our youth.”

Due to the renovation of Starr Theater at Walton Arts Center, The New School opened their doors to host Bear State of Mind in the J.B. and Johnelle Hunt Family Auditorium until Friday, Oct. 9.

“We are thrilled to share our beautiful 350-seat J.B. and Johnelle Hunt Family Auditorium with students across the NWA community during renovations to the Walton Arts Center. It affirms our longstanding commitment to the arts and aligns with our commitment to give back to the community as much as it has generously supported our growth through the years.” said Dennis Chapman, The New School President and Head of School. “The New School and the Walton Arts Center have enjoyed a long partnership, with Founding Head of School Bill Mandrell serving on the Walton Arts Center Board during his time here.” The ribbon cutting for the J.B. and Johnelle Hunt Family Auditorium was held on October 2, 2014.

Walton Arts Center will open in November 2015 for their Hard Hat Season. Construction will be ongoing and a full season of shows will take place. The Investing in our Future $23 million campaign to add 30,000 square feet of space, which includes a new and expanded atrium lobby that connects to Dickson Street, significant renovations and expansion of Starr Theater, increased space for back of the house technical and theatrical equipment is scheduled for completion in November 2016.

Tickets for performances are currently available for school registration. For more information, please contact the Walton Arts Center School Concierge at 479.571.2743 or visit www.waltonartscenter.org.
Bear State of Mind
September 29- October 9
Two Shows Daily: 9:30am & 11:30 am
Hunt Auditorium at The New School, Fayetteville, Ark.
Best For: Lower Elementary, K-2nd grades

Separated from his family, Bear travels the state of Arkansas where he meets his new friends, Owl, Mockingbird, and Woodpecker. His journey leads him through three of Arkansas’ geographic regions and uncovers native wildlife, folklore, and symbols. Bear State of Mind is experiential theater - students sit within the stage set and interact with the play’s characters. Arkansans Ashley Edwards, playwright, Shannon Wurst, songwriter, and Trike Theatre share our love for Arkansas’ unique beauty in this original play produced and presented by Walton Arts Center. Tickets are on sale now.