This month we bid a fond farewell to two company stalwarts: director of operations Kathleen Harper, who’s accepted a new position with the Juneau Arts & Humanities Council as house manager for Centennial Hall; and finance and office manager Bryan Crowder, who’s moving to Los Angeles this fall to build his acting career.
It’s impossible to overstate Kathleen’s contributions over her fifteen years on staff; in so many ways, large and small, she kept Perseverance running.
“I first worked with Kathleen on Moby Dick, a new play that was as wild a ride to stage manage as they come,” Art Rotch recalled. “But when she explained that she came here by way of the Fairbanks Shakespeare Theatre; knew the founder, Bruce Rogers, and had lived at the camp in the birch trees up there—and had loved it, and was going back next year—I knew she was a theatre person. Since then she has crafted dozens of memorable props, including an authentic Victorian-era vibrator; housed countless actors, directors, and more than the occasional family member and pet; and put in more late nights than I can count, all while staying pleasant and friendly. I will miss having her here every day, but am thrilled she is staying in Juneau and in the performing arts. See you at the theatre, Kathleen!”
We asked Kathleen to share some reflections on her time at Perseverance. Here’s some of what she had to say:
“Though I wasn’t born in Alaska, I grew up here and have always loved this crazy state we call home—from Dillingham to Kenai, and finally here in Juneau. I went out of state for college to get a degree in theatre and studio art, but always knew I wanted to come back to Alaska. Working summers during college with the Fairbanks Shakespeare Theatre introduced me to some of the people who worked at Perseverance at the time, including Jake Waid, Jeffrey Herrmann, and Sarah Waisenan. Right out of college I was able to come to Juneau and start work at Perseverance Theatre myself—how lucky to find work in my chosen field, in my home state!
“I started as a stage manager and props master and worked various jobs as I could. I was never officially an intern, but there were years when it sort of felt like that; to make up the difference in income I substitute-taught and eventually got a part-time job at United Fishermen of Alaska as the office assistant, where I was trained in QuickBooks along with other office basics. When the finance person at Perseverance left back in 2007, I told the managers at the time, “I can fill in until you find a permanent person.” Three years later… At times I was both finance and box office, then moved to finance and production manager, then production and company manager, and finally became director of operations.
“I love this theatre—obviously, since I’ve stuck around for so long. I’ve worked under three different artistic directors, and with countless staff and board members. I’ve seen this place grow from a grass-roots Juneau community theatre with big ambitions to a grass-roots Alaska regional theatre with nationwide reach and reputation. I’ve always felt like the staff here was just as much a part of my family as those related to me by blood. This past year I jokingly told some fellow staff members that I have spent more time in the theatre building than I have spent in any home I’ve ever lived in. The space is layered in ghosts of the past and promises for the future for me.
“I spend a lot of time talking with the actors who come in and the people who volunteer and even patrons on the phone, and I think we can all agree that this place has a special magic that is hard to define. Some of that is because Juneau is just such a special city, and some of that is because Perseverance is rooted in this place—Alaska—and embodies so much of what that means for the people who live here. It’s about pioneering spirit, about not being afraid to wear many hats and try new things, it’s about honoring our traditions and creating new ones, making something quality out of nothing, having the hard conversations but also just a really good time together, and the idea that we as a community together make a stronger whole than the sum of our parts.
“I’ll keep on supporting Perseverance and its people, but I’m ready for a new adventure, joining the JAHC as they take over managing the Centennial Hall facility. I’m excited to work with the community to continue to make Juneau a vibrant place we can all be very proud to call home.”
Kathleen, from all of us at Perseverance, thank you.
Bryan Crowder, our uber-capable, ever-cheerful finance and office manager, has also graced the Perseverance stage as an actor in a wide range of roles. (We’ll never forget his loincloth-clad caveman in Madeleine George’s sex comedy Seven Homeless Mammoths Wander New England.)
“My first contact with Perseverance Theatre came through an acting class at the University of Alaska Southeast that was being offered in the fall of 2011,” Bryan recalled. “I got bit by the bug, and I ultimately decided to major in theatre. Over the next seven years I completed three internships, appeared in six shows (five Main Stage and one Black Box), and worked as a staff member for three years. The skills and experience gained through my time at Perseverance have been invaluable, and I will strive to use the knowledge accumulated here to pursue my acting aspirations in Los Angeles beginning this fall. Everyone involved with Perseverance has a great love for theatre and this community. It was a dream to be part of a team with so many creative and talented people who make professional theatre a reality in Juneau.”
We sure hate to lose these MVPs, but we are ready to applaud their next big acts! We’re also excited to welcome several new staff members in August and September; stay tuned for those announcements.