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Southern Plains Productions' Artistic Director Shares Vision For Accessibility In The Performing Arts

The company's 2021 production of Small Mouth Sounds is taking place this May on the open-air Myriad Gardens Water Stage in Downtown Oklahoma City.

Southern Plains Productions' Artistic Director Shares Vision For Accessibility In The Performing Arts

For 19-year-old Jackson Gifford, 2020 was a reminder that we need art today more than ever-to help us make sense of these turbulent times and to give us hope for the future. Last year Jackson founded Southern Plains Productions, a non-profit Oklahoma City theater company with a vision for accessibility in the performing arts.

"Our mission is to provide meaningful art for Oklahomans by creating accessible productions for people of all socioeconomic backgrounds," he said.

To do this, Southern Plains Productions strives to keep ticket prices affordable and even offers a number of free seats to every show. Its 2021 production is taking place this May on the open-air Myriad Gardens Water Stage in Downtown Oklahoma City. This too is by design. The outdoor venue offers a casual and inviting setting.

Jackson said Southern Plains Productions believes in accessibility for both audiences and the artists themselves. "The arts can be a difficult field to break into, especially now during the era of COVID when available work is so limited," he said. "We want to provide an outlet for emerging artists. There is a lot of talent out there and we're excited to showcase as much of it as we can. We work with actors and creative teams from Oklahoma and across the nation."

A student in Otterbein University's BFA in Musical Theatre program, Jackson attended Classen School of Advanced Studies in Oklahoma City and is a graduate of Interlochen Arts Academy. He got his start on the stage at Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma and the Sooner Theatre of Norman.

Chandra Boyd, Board Chair for Southern Plains Productions and a longtime member of Oklahoma City's arts community, said the organization is an excellent complement to the city's vibrant arts scene. "There is a fresh energy being offered by this company at a time when our community is hungry to come together and experience the power of the arts to reflect our humanity," Boyd said. "I'm especially appreciative of the intentional efforts to make these productions accessible to all members of our community."

Southern Plains Productions' inaugural show is "Small Mouth Sounds," directed by Oklahoma native and Carnegie Mellon University directing student Jacob Musgrove. "Small Mouth Sounds," a 2016 New York TimesCritics' Pick written by Drama Desk Award winner Bess Wohl, is a unique play that explores how humans communicate with one another when words fail us.

"I thought this show was both appropriate and timely, given the constraints on human connection and communication we've all experienced over the past year," Jackson said. "Bess Wohl said she was transformed in writing 'Small Mouth Sounds,' and I hope our audiences are too in watching it."

Southern Plains Productions, in partnership with the Myriad Gardens, will present two showings of "Small Mouth Sounds," May 21-22, 2021 on the Myriad Gardens Water Stage. For tickets, visit www.southernplainsproductions.org. Follow on Instagram: @southernplainsproductions.


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