One of the fun things about Peter and the Starcatcher is the interaction between the ensemble on the stage and the audience in their seats. So last night, the first time that we had a big crowd in the theatre to watch the first preview, was an important moment for all the artists involved. The actors start to hear and feel the responses to their lines and actions and that can effect their timing, especially in a play like Peter and the Starcatcher, which is ripe with funny moments. Designers can use audience responses to help them put finishing touches on lighting, sound, and more. Even though folks watching the first preview were not seeing a “finished” play they were thoroughly entertained and left with comments like “…it was wonderful and such a hoot!”
As we near opening night, the role of the director is nearly over. Here’s Art Rotch to tell us a bit about all the magic that Teresa K. Pond has brought us.
Teresa K Pond is a director who grew up making theatre in Anchorage, where her father, Robert Pond, ran Anchorage Community Theatre for many many years. I’d heard of her work when she ran ACT herself later, then follower her story as she earned her MFA, ran Millbrook Playhouse in Pennsylvania, then spent time in New York City where she made a successful stage version of Pinkalicious, based on the children’s book. When Teresa moved back to Alaska recently, I made a note to meet her and see her directing work at the first opportunity. Flowers for Algernon is a distinctive piece of theatre that Teresa directed in Anchorage that I was able to see, and we went out for coffee to chat about the play, directing, and the kind of theatre we each like to make in Alaska. I remember spending a long time at Side Street Espresso and came away wanting to find the right project to introduce Teresa to Perseverance Theatre.
About a year later, Peter and the Starcatcher made our short list, which is usually a time in our programming process when we start asking if there’s a director in our group that will have an affinity for the play and understand what it would be to make it into a production for Alaskan audiences. Teresa fit the bill in several ways: her experience making theatre for young audiences would help with the young characters at the center of this play, her skills with musicals and movement would be valuable, and her deep passion for British humor and adventure were plusses. She certainly understood how the story would present in Alaska, and appreciated as much as we did how the new book writes out some of the dated challenges of the original, such as the portrayal of indigenous characters, and how the character of Molly gives us the kind of self-assured and empowered heroine we seek for our times.