Arlitia Jones and Art Rotch on the Dave Stieren Show talking about A Christmas Carol

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IMG_0526Arlitia Jones and Art Rotch sat down with Dave Stieren on KFQD Radio to talk about Perseverance Theatre’s re-mounting of A Christmas Carol opening December 18th in the Discovery Theatre at the Alaska Center for Performing Arts. For tickets visit or call 263-ARTS. Get more information about A Christmas Carol on our event page,

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A Conversation with the Adapters of A Christmas Carol

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In 2014, Perseverance Theatre commissioned Arlitia Jones and Michael Evan Haney to adapt Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol for the stage. This new adaptation had its World Premiere last year in Anchorage. Co-adapter Arlitia Jones, an Anchorage-based playwright, began her writing career as a poet. She has won many prizes for her writing, including a 2013 Individual Artist Fellowship from the Rasmuson Foundation, allowing her to dedicate four months solely to writing. Co-adapter and director Michael Evan Haney, currently one of Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park’s associate artists, has directed A Christmas Carol each year for over 20 years. He has directed shows all across America and internationally, in more than 100 venues. This year, as Perseverance Theatre prepared to mount Arlitia Jones’ and Michael Evan Haney’s adaptation of A Christmas Carol once more, we spoke with both adapters about the magic of A Christmas Carol.

Q: What is the appeal of Charles Dickens’ novella A Christmas Carol?

Michael Evan Haney: I like to describe A Christmas Carol as the second greatest story ever told. That’s why it has flourished for 150 years as the go-to story at Christmas time. Dickens’ use of language rivals Shakespeare’s – and I think his storytelling surpasses Shakespeare’s. Dickens’ stories are populated by characters who are just so memorable. And real; everyone has known a Scrooge. We’ve also known a Cratchit family, a nephew Fred, and a Belle – Dickens’ characters are recognizable to us even in our modern-day lives. Although Dickens wrote pre-Freudian, and the reason why Scrooge was a miser did not interest him in the way that it interests a modern audience, we get a sense of Scrooge’s loneliness in the scenes from childhood. We are told that Scrooge is “as solitary as an oyster.” Losing Belle hurts Scrooge so much that he builds up a hard, protective shell so that he never has to feel like that again.

Arlitia Jones: Dickens has always been one of my favorite authors. I started reading his novels in junior high. I devoured his diction and humor and larger than life characters with their funny names and eccentric habits. It was college when I learned Dickens first wrote A Christmas Carol as part of his wish “to deliver a sledge-hammer blow on behalf of the Poor Man’s child.” A Christmas Carol was indeed a smashing blow. The darkness in his novels is heavy; the light when it comes is blazing. Dickens was never afraid of extremes. I think I’ve always been a sort of “old fashioned” writer. I love the high style of the Victorians with their complex sentences and their “four-cylinder” words, as an old-time Alaskan friend of mine (who could’ve passed for a modern-day Fezziwig in flannel and denim) used to call them.

Q: What was the adaptation process like? How did you prepare and what was important for you to keep in mind while working?

MEH: I’ve been doing this play for many years, and I knew that this adaptation needed care and attention to be done well. The richness of Dickens’ language is one of the most beautiful things about A Christmas Carol, so we’ve tried to stay as true to Dickens’ original language as possible – anything less would be a disservice to the audience. Like Shakespeare, Dickens requires of his audience that they engage with this elevated language and embrace it. We wouldn’t try to modernize Shakespeare’s language, and we shouldn’t try to modernize Dickens’, either. For this adaptation, Arlitia put the words on the paper and I edited, rearranged, gave notes, and together we came up with a final version. Lots of scenes lifted directly off the page, but other scenes had to be dramatized based on passages in Dickens’ novella that were written without dialogue. Arlitia took those parts and crafted the words and made it sound like Dickens – and at the same time, it has a little bit of her in there, too.

AJ: Before beginning work on this adaptation, I steeped myself in Dickens for several months, reading Bleak House for the first time, rereading Great Expectations, and rereading A Christmas Carol at least once a week. Working with Michael Haney has been one of the most rewarding collaborations I’ve had so far in theatre. His very real connection to the story and his understanding of Scrooge’s dilemma and final redemption kept the script focused and tight. Michael was definitely a guidepost for me when I tended to spin out on a tangent, lost in the beautiful language of 19th century London. Together we’ve shaped an adaptation we’re very proud of, that stays true to the original story and its intent. Most of the dialogue in the original novella is preserved in this stage adaptation. In the in-between sections, when I had to make it up, I did what all playwrights do–imagined what it would be to be in the lives of these characters. Most of them are so familiar to me. In rehearsal this year I had to come up with some ad lib lines for the Cratchit family as they are coming to table with Christmas dinner. I could have had them say anything, but there is Mrs. Cratchit carrying that goose and what came to mind was my brother and I when we were the ages of the Cratchit children, how every time any kind of fowl was served to us our first thought was for the wishbone. So the Cratchit children bring their wishes to table and this production becomes deeply personal for me.

Q: What makes A Christmas Carol important?

MEH: The message: that we’re all fellow travelers to the grave, and we need to help each other, and love each other, and especially help those who are needy. And unfortunately, that message needs to be heard every year. The story of Scrooge’s reclamation is the perfect lens through which to learn that lesson: he starts out alone, he’s got all this wealth, he doesn’t put it to good use (he doesn’t even splurge on himself and send it back into the economy) – he just hoards it. Then when he learns the joy of giving, it makes him cry, and it makes us cry. Hopefully this play makes you want to be a more generous human being, especially at this most wonderful time of the year.

AJ: A Christmas Carol tells the truth about us in a very fundamental way. Deep down we are kind and generous and our need to receive love is as strong as our need to give love. I think we all have a Christmas Carol moment in our lives. For me, it was when I was very young moving with my family to Alaska. I’ll never forget our first Christmas so far away from back-home, we were welcomed into a long-time Alaskan’s home who knew that while my family didn’t have much in the way of material possessions, we brought love and kindness and we were so grateful to share it among friends. Every time I see A Christmas Carol, or read it or even watch the Fezziwig party in rehearsal, I am that seven year old girl again welcomed inside out of the cold Anchorage night to a Christmas feast in a room full of laughing people. The Christmas Spirit is real. The story asks us to think about the future. The Ghost of Christmas Present warns Scrooge that Tiny Tim will die if “these shadows of the present remain unaltered by the Future.” In the end there is redemption, Scrooge’s, Ours, all of Mankind’s. After a night of hauntings, in the morning there is still time to change our lives, to reverse the courses of Ignorance and Want, by thinking of our fellow travelers on this earth. That’s the power of A Christmas Carol.

A Pain in the Crevasse

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Perseverance Theatre and University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) present A Pain in the Crevasse: 6 Short Plays on Climate Change. This is a free event.
Thursday December 3rd at 7pm outside the Mendenhall Glacier Pavilion.

Come dressed for the weather, as the play readings will be outside at the pavilion at the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau. Warm up inside the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center for a post-show panel discussion with glaciologists and Juneau climate-change experts including Jason Amundson, Eran Hood, John Neary, and Glenn Wright.

A Pain in the Crevasse is Juneau’s contribution to Climate Change Theatre Action (CCTA). CCTA is a worldwide event bringing playwrights from all parts of the world to write short plays specifically on the topic of climate change. Perseverance Theatre and UAS have selected six of these short plays for A Pain in the Crevasse. Playwrights include Elyne Quan, Deborah Zoe Laufer, Andrea Lepcio, Neil LaBute, Arthur Kopit, Colleen Murphy, and August Murphy-King.

Thank You Pick.Click.Give. Sponsors of 2015!

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Thank you to the 127 individuals who gave $9,050 to Perseverance Theatre in the 2015 Pick.Click.Give. campaign! By giving a portion of your Permanent Fund Dividend to Perseverance Theatre you helped make professional Alaskan theatre by and for Alaskans possible. YOU help support actors, playwrights, and theatre artists! Thank you for being an important part of Perseverance Theatre.

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Deanne Adams

Nicholas Adamson

Cassandra Adkins

Joanne Alcantara & Boo Torres

Dianne Anderson & Mark Vinsel

Sarah Asper-Smith

Patsy Bearden

James Beedle

Richard A. Benavides

Marla Berg & John Greely

Benjamin Brown

Daniel Bruce

Diane Burnham

Sharon & Greg Busch

Jack Cannon & Jamie McLean

Annie & Rick Caulfield

Tresvant Causey

James Chapman

Emily Coate

Robert Cohen

Marguerite Crawford

Cristine Crooks & Dean Guaneli

Wesley Dalton

Leslie & Hal Daugherty

Brandon Demery

Mercy Dennis

Dave Dierdorff & Madeleine Lefebvre

Donald & Margaret Dorsey

Dennis & Sharon Early

Ginny Eckert

Anita Evans

Amanda Filori

Sharon Fisher

Clydene Fitch

Laura Forbes

Carol Fuller

Michael Galginaitis

Rebecca & Chris George

Janice L. Gray

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Rachel Greenberg

Karen & Charlie Griffin

Melissa Griffiths

Michael Haase

Joy & Ken Harper

Kathleen Harper & Bo Anderson

Patricia Harris

Andy & Nancy Hemenway

James Higgins

Wendy Hogins

Larry Holland

Amy O’Neill Houck

William Todd Hunt & Kristin Mabry

Karrold and Robert Jackson

Virgina Jacobs

Arlitia Jones

Frank Katasse

John A. Kelly

Dawn Kolden

Barbara Konrad

Robin Krumm

Aurele Legere

  1. Pease, N. Long, & B. Carber

Maureen Longworth, M.D. & Lin Davis

Kaycie Mallory

Mary McDowell

Morgan Mitchell

Roman Motyka

Joel & Jill Bess Neimeyer

Susan Olson

Lucy Peckham

James Perry

Mary Pignalberi

Maggie & Ian Rabb

Stephen Robbins

Dion Roberts

Sigrun Robertson

Caren Robinson

Art & Akiko Rotch

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Trenton Schneiders

Carl & Sue Schrader

Julie Shelton

Barbara Shepherd

Spencer Shroyer

Rhonda Sleighter

Jeff & Susan Sloss

Jill Sowerwine

Ben Stathis

Marnell Steiner

Virginia Stonkus

Trevor Storrs & Steve Smith

James, Maura, & Seamus Sullivan

Saralyn Tabachnick

Austin Tagaban

Theresa Tavel

Louise Taylor-Thomas

David & D.J. Thomson

Sherrie Tinsley-Myers

Jennifer Treadway

Mary Riggen-Ver & Joseph Ver

Mark Vinsel

Laura Wallrath

Anne & Charles Ward

Patty Ware & George Buhite

Laurence West

Christina Weston

Quinn White

Ben Williams

Kerri Willoughby

Aaron Wiseman

Brenda Wright & Jim Noel

12 Annonymous Donors


Announcing Monthly Play Readings

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Monthly Play Readings

Once a month at Perseverance Theatre join us for a staged reading of a play.  Afterwards, stay for a brief discussion to share thoughts about the play.  This is a free event hosted by Actors in Residence, Enrique Bravo and James Sullivan.

Readings begin at 7:00pm.

Upcoming Reading

  • September 14, 2015 – Desdemona (A Play About a Handkerchief) by Paula Vogel
  • October 5, 2015 – The Realistic Joneses by Will Eno
  • November 16, 2015 – Luna Gale by Rebecca Gillman
  • December 7, 2015 – Mr. Burns (A Post-Electric Play) by Anne Washburn

Additional play readings will take place in January through May. For more information, contact James Sullivan at

Announcing The Drama School at Perseverance Theatre

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Classes are available for theatre makers of all ages.

For more information or to register, please contact Shona Osterhout at (907) 364-2421 ext. 232 or

Youth Classes

Imagine and Play

Tuesday and Thursday: September 22-October 15, 2015

$200      Ages 3-5                 1:30pm-2:30pm

This one-hour course is a great way to introduce children to the dramatic arts. The class will focus on building imagination and movement skills.

Creative Dramatics

Tuesday and Thursday: September 22-October 15, 2015

$200      Ages 5-8                 3:00pm-4:30pm

Creative Dramatics is the perfect course for the young performer. Students will learn the actor’s tools (voice, body, and imagination) through a series of fun and creative exercises.


Monday, Wednesday and Friday: November 9-November 27, 2015

$200      Ages 9-13              4:00pm-6:00pm

This fun and high-paced class is both helpful for the beginning and intermediate actor. The course will build students’ skills in teamwork, character development, and making courageous choices onstage. Improvisation games and exercises will help the actor think quickly and creatively.

Monday Night Class Series

Hand-to-Hand Combat

Monday Night Series: September 21 and September 28, 2015

$100      Adult and High School    6:00pm-9:00pm

Othello guest actor and fight choreographer Frank Delaney will help students create the illusion of violence on stage with this hand-to-hand how-to combat class. This two-part class will delve into the basics of stage combat.

Introduction to Alexander Technique

Monday nights: October 12, October 19, October 26, 2015

$100      Adult and High School    6:00pm-9:00pm

Alexander Technique is a method of bringing awareness to one’s thinking and movement to achieve greater clarity and ease. In this hands-on group class, students will “map” their anatomy and explore how it might move more efficiently. Students will also experience the principles of Alexander Technique as applied to daily activities such as walking, sitting and standing. Taught in many conservatories, orchestras and theatre companies, the technique is popular with performers of all kinds, but studying Alexander can be helpful to anyone of any age who moves. Layered, loose, comfortable clothing is recommended. For more information about Alexander Technique, visit:

Voice for the Stage

Monday Night Series: November 2 and November 9, 2015

$100      Adult and High School    6:00pm-9:00pm

Both beginning and experienced performers will benefit from this course in vocal training for the stage. This class will guide artists in finding the natural breath, freeing the voice of tension, discovering resonance and perfecting articulation.

Basics of Technical Theatre

Monday Night Series: November 16 and November 23, 2015

Free        Adult and High School    6:00pm-9:00pm

Have you ever wondered what goes on backstage in the theatre? This course is an introduction to behind-the-scenes work, as students explore basics of sound, lights, props, set building and stage management. No experience is required.

Summerfest Unplugged

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Summerfest Unplugged

Have you ever wondered how a play gets from script to stage? This summer, Perseverance Theatre invites you to Summerfest Unplugged, a weekend of two new plays. The process of creating live theatre is a collaborative one that involves playwright, actors, dramaturg, director, designers, and YOU, the audience member. Join Perseverance Theatre July 11th and 12th for a special weekend of new plays. You’ll see readings on the PT Mainstage of two new works: House of Dreams and Into the Wild, and you’ll get a chance to talk about the work with the authors, composers, and creators in special discussions and receptions after the shows.


Both of these plays are based on true Alaskan stories. House of Dreams imagines what happened when actor John Barrymore sailed the Infanta to Lemesurier Island to visit friends at a homestead not far from Glacier Bay. Into the Wild takes another look at the story of Christopher McCandless. Music and lyrics by Niko Tsakalakos and lyrics and story by Janet Allard bring Christopher, his family, and the friends he meets on his journey to life.


Get an all-access pass to this unprecedented event for $25. Tickets include your attendance at a reading of each show and the receptions and discussions following.


When: July 11th, House of Dreams, 4pm, Into the Wild, 7:30pm

July 12th, Into the Wild, 4pm, House of Dreams, 7:30pm
(Discussions to follow each performance.)


Summerfest Unplugged Pass: $20, Season Subscribers pay just $10!

Perseverance Theatre, Mainstage

Reception to follow at the theatre.

Tickets available at the JAHC, Hearthside Books, and by calling 463-TIXS or visiting

Summerfest Unplugged is sponsored by Alaskan Brewing Company and Louie’s Douglas Inn with support from Northwind Architects.To become a supporter, contact Amy O’Neill Houck at 907-364-2421 x230 or email

Purchase tickets here!

Read the Summerfest Unplugged Press Release