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Exhibit showcases history of local, nationally known children's theatre

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

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Media Contact: Susan Slupecki

ARLINGTON - A new exhibit at The University of Texas at Arlington Library Special Collections will take visitors back in time to the Reeder Children’s Theatre, a renowned theater school that flourished in Fort Worth from 1945 to 1958.

“The Reeder Children's Theatre Presents...” runs through the spring semester in UT Arlington’s Library’s Special Collections, 702 Planetarium Place. Hours are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is free and open to all.

Established in 1945 by Flora and Dickson Reeder, the innovative Reeder Children’s Theatre School was lauded nationally in magazines like Life and Glamour. The school produced plays of outstanding quality using only child actors aged 4 to 14.

Drawing on the extensive Dickson and Flora Reeder Papers and Reeder School records, the exhibit walks visitors through the Reeder School experience, beginning with the origins of Reeder School and continuing through the selection, production and performance of the school's plays and the students' immersion into the art, history, music, dance and culture of a play's era.

Original hand-painted Reeder School costumes, headpieces and props colorfully accent original play scripts, musical scores, programs, posters, photographs, costume and set design sketches for the plays produced between 1945 and 1958.

The exhibit is a collaborative effort among Evelyn Barker, UT Arlington Information Literacy librarian; Brenda McClurkin, Special Collections historic manuscripts archivist; and Diane Simons, Hip Pocket Theatre producer and costume designer. The exhibit also complements the Amon Carter Museum exhibition “Intimate Modernism: Fort Worth Circle Artists in the 1940s,” which features nearly 100 paintings, watercolors and prints created by members of this Fort Worth art colony, whose members included Dickson and Flora Reeder, Lia Cuilty, Veronica Helfensteller, Marjorie Johnson, Bror Utter, Sara Shannon, William P. (Bill) Bomar, Jr., Kelly Fearing, Cynthia Brants, and George Grammer.

Fort Worth Circle friends frequently contributed their talents to the painting of scenery, costumes, headpieces, and props for Reeder School productions. In a May 23, 1948 article in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dickson recognized their work by saying, “We have a million dollars worth of talent free of charge.”

As part of the Amon Carter Museum programming, Simons will stage four performances of “Tempest in a Dream” at the Fort Worth Community Arts Center (formerly the Scott Theater) in April. Visit www.cartermuseum.org for show dates and times. This theatrical production, inspired by the Reeders and Reeder School, is an adaptation of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” featuring child and adult actors.

Contact Brenda McClurkin at (817) 272-3393 or spcoref@uta.edu for more information.

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The University of Texas at Arlington is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action employer.

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