The Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas, 701 Main St., will present a Juneteenth performance that is based on local Civil War history at 1 p.m. Saturday.

The Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas, 701 Main St., will present a Juneteenth performance that is based on local Civil War history at 1 p.m. Saturday.

At 2 p.m. Friday the students will perform the Ananse spider tale that emanates from African folk tradition.

University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff professor, Cheryl Collins, directed the Living Theater Camp camp and the Juneteenth production. Collins will also offer a view into the past as she presents a character through living history performance.

Students attending camp learned dramatic arts in addition to the local history and they will be performing a script that was developed by April Gentry-Sutterfield during an artist residency at W.T. Cheney Elementary School. John Mitchell and Lori Walker compiled the history and presented it to the elementary students.

Juneteenth is a celebration of emancipation and everyone is invited to this free performance. This performance, and the Living History Theater Camp, is possible due to a grant from the Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission.

Pine Bluff’s Civil War history is unusual for a city within the Confederacy because it was held by Union forces for most of the war. Often, as formerly enslaved people left plantations, they made their way to Union military camps for protection and to find work. Pine Bluff had such three encampments and they aided Union forces during the battle of Pine Bluff thereby helping to expel the Confederates. The Union soldiers were in front of the courthouse and had placed cotton bales as makeshift barricades. When the Confederate soldiers fired on them, the cotton bales caught fire and the former slaves formed a bucket brigade, passing water from the river to the battle ground. As the fires were subdued, the Union forces were able to repel the Confederates. One Kansas soldier, A.D. Brown wrote about the former slaves, “they worked patiently, and with an unselfish devotion to our cause that goes far to remove the jaundiced prejudice of color.”

The center is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 1-4 p.m. Saturday and is closed on Sunday. Support for the center is provided in part by the Arkansas Arts Council, an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Hands-on science exhibits are offered through the center’s partnership with Arkansas Discovery Network, a consortium of seven museums in Arkansas funded by the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation.

For more information, contact the center at 870-536-3375, info@artssciencecenter.org or visit the website at www.ArtsScienceCenter.org.