On September 1, Perseverance Theatre announced our lineup for the Fall 2020 Season, and like most of our offerings will be, the announcement was made via live-stream.
Artistic Director Leslie Ishii was joined by Director of Marketing and Engagement Erika Stone for an evening of entertainment, guessing games, and giveaways as the theatre announced (almost) everything it will be presenting this fall. The evening was punctuated with live performances by musicians Annie Bartholomew, Irene Martinko, and Lewis Chapman. Ishii and Stone noted that all the offerings will be available through our new membership program, Perseverance Everywhere, as well as a la carte.
Earlier this summer, Perseverance announced their first show of the season would be In Love and Warcraft by Madhuri Shekar, directed by Peter J. Kuo, a co-production with American Conservatory Theatre (A.C.T.) in San Francisco. The show was live-streamed through Broadway On Demand via Zoom, allowing viewers to watch from the safety of their homes but still interact with each other through the chat function. The production was met with near-universal rave reviews and lauded as a wonderful accomplishment in the new landscape of Live Video Theatre. That show recently wrapped up its live-stream performances but will continue on demand September 18-25. Tickets are available at ptalaska.org/in-love-and-warcraft/.
Of the live-stream format, Ishii says, “My husband’s family, spread out all over the country, is having fun like never before because they can coordinate to watch our Live Video Theatre season together- then they have their own post show discussions.”Live Video Theatre is a New Medium that has been gaining traction as theatres across the country have had to curtail live performances due to COVID-19. Director Peter J. Kuo has emerged as a leader in this new performance medium and has led several rounds of classes in collaboration with Perseverance Theatre to teach directors, actors, and designers to hone their skills in this new technique. “Live Video Theatre is a revolutionary approach to the art form. We are proud to be at the forefront of its development. This will allow us to bring the amazing new scripts that we have slated for our fall season to audiences anywhere they are,” says Perseverance Managing Director, Frank Delaney. All upcoming shows will be produced in this format.
Next up for Perseverance is The Spirit of the Valley, by Frank Henry Kaash Katasse. In the 2016-17 season the theatre produced Katasse’s They Don’t Talk Back, about a family living in a small fishing village in Southeast Alaska. Spirit is another love letter to Southeast, but with a message about the fragility of our planet, and the need for action to take care of it. This will be a family show and appropriate for all audiences.
Following Spirit will be one of Perseverance’s holiday offerings, A Tlingit Christmas Carol by Vera Starbard. This Tlingit twist on a holiday classic will be filled with (Tlingit) Christmas carols, and will be released in five staves over the course of the holiday season. Starbard exclaims, “I can’t wait until we get to introduce Tlingit Scrooge, Alaskan-ized Christmas Carols, and a totally new way of bringing this tale to you all!” Starbard’s plays Our Voices Will Be Heard and Devilfish both premiered at Perseverance in 2016 and 2019 respectively to critical acclaim.
During the live-streamed season reveal event, there was a hint that a second holiday show could be in the works, as Ishii and Stone rattled and shook a wrapped gift with a tag that read, “Do not open until the holidays.” There may be at least one more surprise from Perseverance Theatre for our Fall 2020 Season.
In addition to the lineup of plays scheduled to live-stream this fall, Perseverance also announced we will be offering Perseverance Power Parlors, which will range from cabaret-style cocktail hour evening gatherings to concerts and presentations by local artists to community conversations and panels. They are meant to connect and activate the community in this time of social distancing. The first of these is scheduled to live-stream on October 9 as a “get out the vote” initiative and will be presented in collaboration with Houston Writer’s Block, Art2Action, and Houston in Action.
Finally, we will be adding to our educational offerings, starting with an acting class taught by Ishii entitled Flex and Stretch! The class will begin on October 8 and run for four weeks, in which Ishii will integrate breath and voice into acting and performance. Registration as well as scholarship applications are available at ptalaska.org/flex-and-stretch/.
Peter J. Kuo will also return to teach another round of his intensely popular Live Video Theatre workshop as well as a level two class that will be a deeper dive into the fundamentals that have been taught in level one. The fundamentals workshop is scheduled for early October, and the level two workshop is slated for mid-November. In the theatre world, honing skills in this new performance medium can mean the difference between sustaining through these challenging times and going dark. Hence the popularity of this class as theatre-makers pivot to develop this new skill.
Ishii says, “To be able to meet the challenges of these difficult times with innovation in order to safely keep connecting with our audiences, our communities, and our artists is heartening. Our Perseverance Team is hard at work so that we can stay connected through Live Video Theatre.” After all, one of the key mandates of theatre is to connect us to each other, to share in experiences, and to unite our communities.