|Program Area:||Arts, Culture, Humanities \ Performing Arts \ Theater|
PROLOGUE (An introduction to Juneau's Perseverance Theatre)
To revitalize the American Theater by mining Alaska's unique cultural character, producing the finest theater our state has to offer.
PROLOGUE was created organically, just as Perseverance Theatre was created through a grass-roots effort led by Molly Smith in 1979. The Playwright is mentoring the Student, explaining the process of developing the VOYAGE, a new play which is minutes from starting rehearsals. The Student explores the physical space just as s/he explores the origins of Perseverance.
Action occurs in the intimate Phoenix rehearsal space
(originally the Taku Bar), the theater's first performing hall. The black floor reveals underlying chips of yellow and red, scars from previous productions. Perseverance is undergoing an extensive renovation, and the Phoenix, resembling a rabbit warren, stores miscellaneous production items--costumes, light boards and building supplies. Noise from the adjoining Mainstage includes hammering, music, technicians focusing lights, etc.
(Student and Playwright sit at a table center-stage discussing the creation of VOYAGE.)
Playwright(Pulling out file) These are the interviews I had with four generations of local Filipino-Americans. So the director, Flordelino…
PlaywrightFrom New York. He and local actors will build the play from the interviews while I provide ideas for the structure. It's an experimental process. You see, the second stage is a training ground for new artists and techniques.
Student(Interrupting) Why here?
Student(Looking around) Why has this theater produced over 50 World Premieres? Why has it grown to serve 20,000 statewide audience members, include 300 volunteers and 100 employees?
PlaywrightI see you've read the promotional stuff. Let's focus on this play.
Student(Ignoring Playwright) How can a theater with such national impact exist on (Laughter) Douglas Island?
Playwright(Pause) We ask ourselves that all the time. When we stop wondering, we'll stop existing.
StudentYou're not answering my question.
Playwright(Picks up Zeus's scepter from recent production of METAMORPHOSIS) We're rooted in this community, and ¦we're on a mythical quest. (Pause) Perseverance was built on Molly's beliefs.
StudentMolly Smith. The first Artistic Director.
PlaywrightShe believed in Alaska, in our stories. She knew they were complex, human... epic. And she believed that there's an artist in everyone. So with the Phoenix as our symbol…
Student(Leaping up) Rising from the ashes and all?
PlaywrightPerseverance is built on hope and potential. And guts.
(Dog runs through excitedly. Child follows.)
ChildCome, Angus! Sorry, she lives with King Duncan.
(Playwright ushers them out the door.)
Child(Overly dramatic, as s/he exits) This castle hath a pleasant seat, the air.
Playwright(Annoyingly) There's a Young Shakespeare rehearsal in the lobby. (Student studies MACBETH mask.) OK. We'll start by reading the interviews as a group.
StudentI saw your MACBETH when it toured Alaska last year, the one with an all-Native cast.
PlaywrightThe set was designed by a Tlingit carver from Sitka. Look, we have five minutes before the actors arrive.
Student(Sits with audience) Why are YOU here?
Playwright(Surrenders, walks center stage) I jumped off a cliff.
PlaywrightThis theater believes in taking risks. In 1992 I was working as a grant writer when Molly asked me, told me, to write a Christmas play for Juneau. I had two months. I was terrified. But I jumped, with a lot of artists around to catch me. The play was horrible but I (quietly) discovered, you know, the fire in my belly.
(Sounds of cheering)
StudentHey, what's that?
Playwright(Forging ahead) As the play opens, the four actors are on a metaphorical ship bound for America. This may transform into an exploration of identity, the connection to canneries and the sea... or we'll enter a hip hop studio in Juneau. All this stuff is inspired by the interviews.
Administrator(Screaming) WE DID IT!!!!
(Student opens door.)
AdministratorThis community donated $100,000! We reached the goal for the endowment campaign!!!
Playwright(Shutting door) We'll celebrate later. (Sits with student) OK. Why are you here?
StudentUh... the University credit. I uh…
PlaywrightYou're not answering my question.
StudentI'm learning to write a play. (Pause) I'm scared.
(Playwrights softens. Actor bursts in.)
ActorLet's start! Hey, am I late?