Arkansas’s first environmental education state park interprets the importance of the natural world and our place within it.
A CELEBRATION OF GRAHAM GORDY
5 p.m. South on Main. $50.
Arkansas native Graham Gordy honed his interest in writing and filmmaking at UCA in the late '90s before pursuing an M.F.A. in dramatic writing at New York University. Since then he has worked as an assistant to Mike Myers (later co-writing Myers' 2008 film "The Love Guru"), a writer on Ray McKinnon's Sundance drama "Rectify" and, maybe most impressively, a columnist for the Arkansas Times, where he wrote coruscating columns with titles like "America is delicious" and "An argument in favor of drinking." A few years ago he came close to selling a series about college football to AMC called "The Wreck," but it was another idea that finally hit, a show called "Quarry." A 1970s period piece about a Vietnam vet who returns home to Memphis after the war, "Quarry" is based on novels by Max Allan Collins and is filming this summer. "This last decade has been sort of a scrambled rewind of the 1970s — an unwanted war, a really terrible recession, and a lot of apathy and anger," Gordy said of the show in a 2013 interview with the Times. "A big part of this show for us is asking the question in every episode: 'Am I a man, or a monster?' " The nonprofit Arkansas Motion Picture Institute's benefit Thursday will celebrate Gordy and his series' being picked for an eight-episode first season by Cinemax. The party will feature cocktails and appetizers; all proceeds will go to the AMPI, which provides "leadership in film education, while supporting growth and excellence in film, television and digital media."
ARKANSAS NEW PLAY FESTIVAL
2 p.m., 7 p.m. Arkansas Repertory Theatre. Free.
Fayetteville theater company TheatreSquared is the midst of its annual Arkansas New Play Festival and is bringing the event to Little Rock this weekend for one day only. On Saturday, the company will stage readings of two of the new productions being workshopped this year. First up, at 2 p.m., is "Dust" by Arkansas native Qui Nguyen. The story of an Asian-American teenager who goes looking for her ex-G.I. father, it's been described as "blending live hip-hop, raw emotion and wry wit." At 7 p.m., the company will present "Uncle," a new comedy about "an academic sabbatical gone terribly awry" by Lee Blessing, an author who has been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and a Tony Award.
7 p.m. Ron Robinson Theater. $5.
Update: Screening has been changed to "The 39 Steps."
CIVIL RIGHTS BARNSTORMING TOUR
1 p.m. Lamar Porter Field. Free.
Philadelphia-based youth baseball team The Anderson Monarchs are stopping in Little Rock this weekend as part of its Civil Rights Barnstorming Tour, which has been covered by the New York Times. Under the guidance of Coach Steve Bandura, the team is visiting 21 sites significant to the civil rights movement — including the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala.; Medgar Evers' house in Jackson, Miss., and our own Central High School. The team is led by an already famous 13-year-old female pitcher named Mo'ne Davis, who made the cover of Sports Illustrated last year after pitching a shutout at the majority-male Little League World Series. The team — which is traveling over 4,000 miles on a bus dating from 1947, the year Jackie Robinson made his major league debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers — will be hosted here in town by the Little Rock chapter of Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI), sponsored by the Boys and Girls Club of Central Arkansas.
9 p.m. Juanita's. $20.
The classic lineup of Houston rap group Geto Boys — and also the current lineup — consists of Willie D, a boxing prodigy turned newspaper advice columnist; Bushwick Bill, a one-eyed, born-again Jamaican dwarf; and Scarface, who is generally considered one of the best, most respected and accomplished rappers of all time. They were brought together by an ambitious boxing manager and record label CEO named J Prince — Jan. 30 is now officially "James Prince Day" in Houston — who gambled the financial security of his upstart label on the commercial success of this incarnation's first album, "Grip It! On That Other Level." It was a success. Largely for dull reasons — violent lyrics, etc. — the group became a cultural phenomenon, the biggest Southern Rap group since 2 Live Crew. Except 2 Live Crew didn't say things in interviews like "life is pain, and pain is everywhere." When a writer from Spin Magazine asked Bushwick Bill in 1990 what sort of life expectancy they looked forward to, given their lifestyle and locale (Houston's Fifth Ward), he replied, "We're dead already." This wasn't true, of course, and thanks to singles like "Mind Playing Tricks on Me" and "Damn It Feels Good to Be a Gangsta," they have endured in the popular imagination. I mostly return to the group for its solo albums these days — not only Scarface's epochal "The Diary," but also Willie D's politically charged "I'm Goin' Out Lika Soldier" and Bill's recklessly underrated "Phantom of the Rapra" — though the group has recorded good music together as recently as 2005's "The Foundation" (featuring the heartbreaking maturity-rap single "I Tried"). Scarface also released a memoir, "Diary of a Madman," this year. "I came from the least of the least and I've had the most of the most," he writes in the introduction. "I'm the pain and the progress, the sadness and the celebration, the dream and the nightmare."