After 23 years, Dr. Ralph Hyman has retired as Artistic Director of The Weekend Theater effective October 11, 2014. Although Hyman is retiring from this position, he will continue in his role as advisor to senior Staff and Board leadership, and as show director, with upcoming directorial appearances including Other Desert Cities by Jon Robin Baitz (December 5 – 20, 2014) and the world premiere of Karski’s Message by local playwright, lawyer and historian, Phillip McMath (April 10 – 25, 2015).
The story of The Weekend Theater began in 1991 when Ralph Hyman and a small group of local actors and friends recognized there was something missing from the arts community in Central Arkansas. These founding members set out to develop a theater focused on plays and musicals that both examined the way people treat — and mistreat — each other, and created opportunities for personal reflection and growth, as individuals and as a community. In the beginning, they produced their brand of socially conscious plays and musicals at the Unitarian Universalist Church and then at Community Theater of Little Rock. In 1993 they officially founded The Weekend Theater in its current location at 1001 W. 7th St., Little Rock, AR 72201, on the corner of 7th St. and Chester Ave. in downtown Little Rock.
Under Hyman’s stewardship, The Weekend Theater’s dedicated volunteers have produced well over 200 different plays and musicals, at an average of 10 unique productions per year — an astonishing number for an all-volunteer driven organization. Hyman has directed over 50 productions and acted in 40 shows during the Theater’s history and is a practicing psychologist in downtown Little Rock, AR.
“It has been a great run for 23 years!” says Hyman. “You are all marvelous! I hope that you keep going, and I especially hope that you keep the credo of the theater alive! … It has been occurring to me for the past six months that I could be just directing a play or two a year like everyone else, and enjoying the process. … I am leaving the governing body of the theater with the Board and staff being at the strongest place they have ever been.”
“What Ralph Hyman has created and tirelessly dedicated himself to preserving and growing for the past 23 years is truly amazing and inspiring,” says Executive Director, James Norris. “His ongoing, powerful presence and guiding hand at the theater will most certainly be missed; however he’s leaving his wonderful theater in good hands. Betty Fernau, Assistant Artistic Director, will continue to mentor the creative teams as she has been under Ralph’s tutelage, while the Board begins the process of seeking a new Artistic Director. We look forward to calling on Ralph’s advisement and mentorship as we continue to produce socially significant plays for central Arkansas to advance The Weekend Theater’s mission to ‘personally, interpersonally and educationally reduce prejudice, cruelty, and indifference through live theater.’ ”