Bringing Down The Heat: De-Escalation and Safety

Irene Martinko Blog, Featured

If you’ve ever worked in customer service before, then you definitely know what it’s like to face a challenging customer. Maybe someone’s order isn’t exactly how they’d like it. Or perhaps, they’re frustrated by the time it’s taking for them to be served. These days, it may even be someone who is upset that they have to wear a mask indoors. 

But what happens when a situation like this escalates? How do you know what to do if someone gets so angry that you start to feel unsafe or concerned for the safety of those around you? 

I had these same questions running through my head when I agreed to participate in a de-escalation training workshop taught by IMPACT Boston instructors Adriana Li and Michael Perry, and organized by Perseverance Theatre. How am I, a young woman with an almost comical lack of physical strength, supposed to handle a situation that goes too far?

So when the day came, I opened up my laptop, found a quiet space to focus, and got ready to listen.

Tuning in to the workshop Zoom meeting, it was exciting to see that in addition to my own, 57 other devices had also tuned in to receive this de-escalation training. With Arts and Culture leaders, staff, board members, volunteers, and even family members from organizations in Juneau, Anchorage, and Fairbanks, nearly 70 people gathered together to learn. The goal was to garner tools and skills to support community well-being and everyone’s safe re-opening.

But what exactly did we learn? 

To begin, Adriana and Michael from IMPACT Boston, an organization dedicated to teaching self-defense, assertive communication, and de-escalation skills, shared with us a simple message. We were told that the goal should always be to stop escalation before it can even become a fight. When it comes down to it, de-escalation is all about preventing violence before it actually occurs.

We began our training by learning about adrenaline. Have you ever heard an unexpected loud noise that startled you so much that you began to feel that familiar fight or flight response? Your heart rate increased, your breathing became rapid, and time may have even felt like it slowed down or sped up? That’s your adrenaline kicking in. And though in some situations, it may be what keeps you alive, it can also make it really hard to respond to a conflict in a way that is calm and effective.

Adriana and Michael taught us different ways to recognize that feeling of adrenaline in ourselves and how to spot warning signs of that same reaction in others. We were given exercises to manage our own adrenaline and to ground ourselves if we start to feel that fight or flight taking over. I found myself learning skills that would not only be helpful in a de-escalation situation, but also in any stressful scenario in which I might need to keep a clear head.

In fact, Michael even shared with us that we have been living with an unprecedented level of stress in our bodies since the beginning of the pandemic. We have experienced what feels like a constant state of uncertainty, change, and ongoing worry. He and Adriana emphasized that investing time in breathing, grounding ourselves, and practicing stress-relieving techniques has never been more important. 

We then moved into examples of escalated situations in order to learn how to navigate them. We were taught about the words we use, our body language, our tone of voice, and even the way that we stand. All of these things send a message to the people we interact with. In learning how to present ourselves, we are able to have some measure of control in a situation that could potentially become dangerous. 

But what I found most engaging about the workshop was the last section, when Adriana and Michael shared role-playing scenarios with us, demonstrating the very techniques we had just discussed. 

They started by presenting a lower stress scenario, the set-up being a theatre employee welcoming a patron into the space and reminding them that masks are required indoors. The patron is unhappy about said requirement, and thus the escalation, and subsequent de-escalation, ensues.

We watched as they acted out increasingly more intense versions of this scenario, and then we came together to discuss what we had just seen. Some students were even able to practice their own de-escalation skills by taking over the role of theatre employee in the scenario, acting out the situation and using their newfound knowledge to confidently manage the conflict. 

But why is this training important? Sure, it may help us now and again, but where else in our lives can it be used? 

I, for one, left this workshop feeling much more confident about my own ability to de-escalate and about staying calm and collected in stressful situations. As someone who has worked both as a house manager and in a box office, I am of the mindset that this kind of training should be given to anyone in a customer service position. This kind of knowledge can only provide an additional level of safety and security to both employees and patrons in essentially any workplace setting.

But beyond that, de-escalation training is a step that we can take to learn how to protect both ourselves and others in our community in our everyday lives.

Say you’re walking down the street, and you witness a conflict that has the potential to escalate. Perhaps you see someone approach another with comments of racism, sexism, or homophobia. Groups that face elevated levels of discrimination in this country are of course more likely to see this kind of violence. De-escalation training gives us the skills to feel as if we can move from bystander, simply watching the events unfold, to upstander, the kind of person who feels as though they can de-escalate the situation and stand up for their fellow community members.

It reminds me of the TV show “What Would You Do?”, a program on ABC in which actors play out scenarios in public spaces to see if anyone will step forward to intervene. They create fabricated scenarios such as a customer making anti-Muslim comments to a Muslim cashier, or a restaurant refusing to serve a gay couple, and then they see what the real-life public will do. The hidden cameras always capture people who intervene and others who silently watch the situations unfold. When we open ourselves up to learn more about de-escalation tactics, we can become the kind of people who are able to intervene.

I hope that we at Perseverance continue to do this kind of training and work. Attending one workshop was beyond valuable, but I feel as though we have more learning to do, and I can personally say that I’m excited to do it. I also can’t even begin to say how comforting it is to see so many organizations in Alaska who are enthusiastic to learn along with us. Together, we can continue to learn these skills and keep our communities safe.

In-Person Seating Update

joshua Featured, News

As the team at Perseverance Theatre gears up to open our doors to the community once again, we are working tirelessly to ensure that our organization can continue to mitigate any potential harm as a result of COVID-19 transmission. It is with this in mind that the following policies exist – Perseverance Theatre strives to be of service to the community in all that we do, including protecting the health of our neighbors.

Since the postponement of our production of Fun Home, we have been monitoring any updates provided by the Center for Disease Control, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, the City and Borough of Juneau, and Dr. Anne Zink and reflecting those updates in our policies through the summer. Thanks to the tremendous efforts of scientists and health professionals across the globe, Perseverance Theatre was able to open our doors to students aged 12-18 for the 2021 STAR Program. We implemented the following policies and saw tremendous success in preventing the transmission of COVID-19 within our facilities. See our full list of guidelines below.


Health Screening

Attendees must provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 completed at least two weeks prior to the event.

Proof of vaccination must be in the form of a vaccine card or official record or a photo of a vaccine card or record and a matching photo ID.

Prior to entry to the theatre, Perseverance Theatre patrons will be greeted by our staff and will be screened via questionnaire for symptoms of COVID-19. All patrons will have their temperatures taken via contactless thermometer. If a temperature of 100.4 degrees fahrenheit or greater is taken,you will be asked to wait in a designated area for 10 minutes. Your temperature will then be taken again, if it remains elevated you will be asked to return home and we will work with you to reschedule your ticket.

Masks Required

All audience members are required to wear properly fitting masks or face coverings that cover the nose and mouth when inside Perseverance Theatre facilities. Staff are required to wear masks as well. If you do not have a mask with you, Perseverance Theatre will provide you with a mask, free of charge.

As an arts organization, we feel enormously fortunate to have the opportunity to once again welcome the community to our space while producing opportunities for artists to share their gifts. As audience members, we invite you to play your part by keeping our cast and crew safe so that the show may go on.

We look forward to seeing you again.

Curtain Up!: The Return of In-Person Theatre

Irene Martinko Blog, Featured

Flashback to March 2020: 

I’m sitting in a darkened theatre waiting for the show to begin. The music plays, the actors take the stage, and soon I find myself immersed in the beautiful story of Fun Home, the musical that was meant to complete Perseverance Theatre’s 2019/2020 season. By the end of this dress rehearsal, I’m in tears, deeply moved by what has just unfolded onstage, and full of excitement for an audience to see what I’ve just seen. The set is nearly finished, the actors are in costume, and we’re supposed to be celebrating opening night in just a week and a half.

We had no idea that we were so close to the world shutting down. 

Okay, yes, I may sound a bit overdramatic, but the whiplash of finding ourselves on the verge of opening our final show of the season to shutting down the theatre with no end in sight was completely overwhelming.

I suddenly found myself leaving Juneau to be with my family, terrified of catching COVID in the airport, and thinking that we’d be back in just a few short months. Turns out it would be at least a year before we could even think about the possibility of safely returning.

Ask anyone and they’ll tell you that the past year and a half has been incredibly difficult and full of loss. And for those of us who work in theatre, the changes we’ve felt have been devastating. Countless people found themselves out of a job, theatres across the country darkened their lights and closed their doors, and live in-person theatre was almost nowhere to be found.

Of course, I would never devalue the amazing work that was done, and continues to be done online. In creating virtual theatre, we found ways to collaborate across state and country lines, to reach audiences we had never reached before, and to create innovative ways to use technology in our art. Theatres across the world came up with creative solutions to problems we had never dreamed we would experience. And I for one hope that we’re able to continue to use the techniques we’ve developed, even as in-person performance returns.   

But I also can’t pretend that in remaining virtual, I didn’t feel like something was missing. It’s because of this, that as I write about the return of in-person performance, I find myself almost unable to comprehend the possibility of sitting in a theatre and once again waiting for the show to begin.

But returning to in-person theatre has finally become a reality. 

After the shutdown on March 12, 2020, Broadway officially reopened over a year later on June 26, 2021 with the return of Springsteen on Broadway, Bruce Spingsteen’s one-man acoustic show that originally premiered in 2017. This was followed by the play Pass Over by Antoinette Chinonye Nwandu in August, Hadestown by Anaïs Mitchell in September, and many more, including Hamilton, Waitress, Wicked, and The Lion King

Suddenly I’m opening my social media and finding it full of videos of Broadway opening numbers, curtain calls, and rehearsals in celebration of reopening, complete with a never ending stream of comments about the tears these videos have brought to people’s eyes. My friends are once again posting pictures of playbills as they wait for the curtain to open for the first time in what feels like an eternity.

Of course, we do have to ask, is attending a Broadway show the same as it was before? Yes and no. There are definitely some key differences. For instance, in order to attend a live production on Broadway, audiences are now required to show proof of vaccination and must wear a mask. Productions have now essentially cut intermissions out entirely and are no longer allowing autograph signings at the stage door. Some productions have even shortened to ninety minutes in order to remain as safe as possible. For example, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which was originally written and produced as a two-part play, was transformed into one shorter play.  

Safety is now an absolute priority on Broadway, and they’ve set an important benchmark for theatres across the country. In order to create art that is meaningful, entertaining, and important, it is crucial that those backstage, onstage, and in the audience feel safe and comfortable.

And we’re seeing other theatres follow suit. For instance, Woolly Mammoth in Washington, D.C. has transitioned to virtual ticketing and playbills in order to reduce potential touch points. Nine arts organizations in Sarasota, FL grouped together to create COVID safety protocols collaboratively and have agreed to follow those protocols as they reopen. Oregon Shakespeare Festival has implemented socially distanced seating in order to maintain those six feet we’ve become so familiar with. Theatres are prioritizing safety, while adapting and working together to continue to find ways to create.

And when it comes down to it, the shows themselves and the essence of live performance is still the same. In fact, it may even be more exciting and full of hope simply because we’ve been desperate for it for so long. 

I know that I for one am longing for that sense of community and human connection that can only come from experiencing a story together and connecting with each other in the same space. I want to laugh together, cry together, and clap together as the actors return to the stage. I want to celebrate the actors, designers, technicians, directors, administrators, and more who have made these shows possible, and I want to feel a sense of normalcy after such a long period of change.

Perseverance Theatre team spending time on Lingít Aaní prior to the start of Voyager One rehearsals, our season opener and return to live performances

Following Broadway’s footsteps, and of course, paying close attention to the guidelines and recommendations of our own state, Perseverance Theatre is finally planning our own return to live in-person theatre.

I can’t pretend it’s been easy, especially as COVID numbers in Alaska change day by day. But the hope that I feel as we work towards a safe reopening makes it all feel worth it. As we create our safety protocols and prepare our space for audiences once again, I find myself feeling grateful that I live in a place that values the safety of our community along with the art that we work so hard to create and share.

Think about what you miss about live theatre. Imagine you’re sitting in that darkened space waiting for the show to begin. Hear the music play and feel the excitement as the audience quiets down and the actors take the stage. The anticipation and joy of live theatre may not be as out of reach as it feels. I hope you feel the same hope that I do, and I can’t wait to see you in the theatre soon.

Brothers Paranormal Casting

joshua Casting Calls, Featured


The Brothers Paranormal by Prince Gomolvilas

Perseverance Theatre is officially accepting auditions for an upcoming production of The Brothers Paranormal by Prince Gomolvilas. Those auditioning will receive sides from the show and will be asked to submit a self-taped video for consideration.

The deadline for submissions is October 3. Only non-union contracts are available.

This show will be produced and performed in Juneau and then transfer to Anchorage.

Juneau Rehearsals: Jan. 11 – Feb. 17

Juneau Performances: Feb. 18 – Mar. 6

Anchorage Rehearsals/Performances: Mar. 22 – Apr. 3

To request audition sides or to ask questions, please email


In response to a nationwide increase in sightings of “Asian-looking ghosts,” two entrepreneurial Thai-American brothers launch a ghost-hunting business. When the siblings investigate the home of an African-American couple displaced by Hurricane Katrina, what’s real and what’s fantasy clash against a shocking truth.


Looking for non-union actors to play the roles of AAPI and African-American/ Black characters. You
do NOT need to do an accent for the auditions.


MAX: 25; Thai-American; born in the U.S.; ambitious and passionate

VISARUT: 39; Thai-American; born in Thailand; immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 13; speaks with a Thai accent; Max’s brother; his name is pronounced “VIS-UH-ROODT”

TASANEE: 60; Thai-American; born in Thailand; immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 33; speaks with a Thai accent; Max and Visarut’s mother; her name is pronounced “DTAH-SAH-NEE

DELIA: 50s; African-American; born in the U.S.; her name is pronounced “DEE-LEE-UH”; a survivor, must be able to scream safely

FELIX: 50s; African-American; born in the U.S.; Delia’s husband
JAI: 20s; a Thai woman, a ‘ghost’, athletic, must be able to move well and scream safely

STAR Final Showcase – VIRTUAL and IN-PERSON Tickets Available

Lewis Chapman Current Projects, Education, Featured, Live Stream, Productions

Wednesday, August 4
7:00 P.M.

The talented Young Artists of STAR have been working together over the last few weeks to make unique performance pieces that showcase their individual talents and passions. Come see them perform, live or in-person, on Wednesday, August 4 at 7 p.m.!

Only 25 tickets are available for the in-person performance at the theatre on Douglas, so get yours soon! Masks covering nose and mouth will be required.

In-Person Tickets: $10
Virtual Tickets: $5

2021-2022 Season Announcement

Lewis Chapman Featured, Live Stream, Seasons

At long last, we are ready to announce our 2021/22 Season lineup! This season is all about CONNECTION – through time and space, and even from this life to the afterlife. We can’t wait to connect with our communities again!

All of the productions are scheduled to be live and in-person with the exception of the rebroadcast of A Tlingit Christmas Carol by Vera Starbard. Of course, we will be following all national and local health and safety guidelines.We also included an extra special sneak peek at the first show of the 2022/23 Season, Where the Summit Meets the Stars by Frank Henry Kaash Katasse.

Look for tickets to go on sale soon for all productions!

Travel Raffle Winners!

Lewis Chapman Featured, Live Stream, Uncategorized

Perseverance Theatre announced the Lucky Winners of the 37th Annual Travel Raffle. We are very grateful for all the friends and supporters who bought tickets and who watched the drawing livestreamed on Monday, June 21st, from the Island Pub in Dougals. Once again, the Travel Raffle generated significant resources to support the creation of professional theatre by and for Alaskans, and rewarded the Lucky Winners with fabulous goods, services, and experiences from a host of wonderful Alaskan businesses. Perseverance deeply appreciates all the wonderful support!”

Click here to download the pdf of winners and prizes (also available below):

37th Annual Travel Raffle Prize Packages

Grand Prize: “Going Boeing” David Clarke

2 Alaska Airlines Ticket Vouchers to Any Alaska Airlines Destination ($2500) + $2,000!

2nd Prize: “A Midsummer Night’s Getaway (to Fairbanks)” Patricia White

Alaska Railroad Tickets for 2 from Anchorage to Fairbanks ($652)

Arctic Circle Fly-Drive Adventure for 2 ($508)

One-night Stay for 2 at the Fairbanks Westmark Hotel ($200)

3rd Prize: “Up: You in a Flying Chair” Glenn Ramsey

Coastal Helicopters Ice Field Excursion for Two ($630)

2 Mount Roberts Tramway Season Passes ($171)

Tickets for 2 to Perseverance’s 2021-2022 Juneau Season ($300)

4th Prize: “Much Ado About Everything” Karla Starbard

Sunday Afternoon Table for 4 at JAHC’s Wearable Art 2022 ($320)

$100 Gift Certificate to Salt ($100)

One-night Stay for 2 at the Driftwood Hotel ($165)

4 Bottles of Wine from Specialty Imports ($160)

5th Prize: “The Juneau Book” Diane Haddox

48-hour Electric Bike Rental for 2 from Cycle Alaska ($330)

Three Sets of 2 Tickets to Juneau Symphony Orchestra Concerts in 2021-2022 ($240)

Hydro Flask & $50 Gift Certificate from Nugget Alaskan Outfitter ($85)

$20 Gift Certificate to Pel’meni ($20)

6th Prize: “Our Town (Valdez) … is Beautiful” Kimberly Klein

One-night stay for 2 at Robe Lake Lodge ($350)

Columbia Glacier Cruise for 2 on Stan Stephens Glacier & Wildlife Cruises ($280)

7th Prize: “A Skagway Carol” Stephen Stoddard

White Pass & Yukon Route Summit Excursion for 2 ($264)

One-night stay for 2 at the Skagway Inn ($250)

8th Prize: “The Anchorage Menagerie” Helena Fagan

2 Passes to the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center ($40)

One-night Stay for 2 at the Historic Oscar Gill House ($150)

Tickets for 2 to Perseverance’s 2021-2022 Anchorage Season ($300)

9th Prize: “Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are on Douglas” Christopher Giron

$100 Gift Certificate from the Douglas Café ($100)

$50 Gift Certificate from Louie’s Douglas Inn ($50)

$25 Gift Certificate from the Island Pub ($25)

Tickets for 2 to Perseverance’s 2021-2022 Juneau Season ($300)

10th Prize: “Waiting for Jundeau” Nathaniel Saxton

 One-night stay for 2 at Alaska’s Capital Inn Bed & Breakfast ($354)

2 Bottles of Wine from the Triangle Bar ($50)

$50 Gift Certificate from the Sandpiper Café ($50)

$20 Gift Certificate to Pel’meni ($20)

11th Prize: “The Importance of Being Alaskan” Ibn Bailey

One-night stay for 2 at Four Points Sheraton or Baranof with Champagne ($300)

$50 Gift Certificate from Seong’s Sushi Bar ($50)

Heritage Coffee Gift Basket ($80)

12th Prize: “Beauty & the Feast” Mike De La Cruz

Custom 16” x 32” Print from Art Sutch ($150)

$100 Gift Certificate from Taku Smokeries ($100)

$50 Gift Certificate from V’s Cellar Door ($50)

$25 Gift Certificate from the Island Pub ($25)

13th Prize: “Cats in a Hot Tub Rooftop” Emily Mehlman

One-night stay for 2 at the Silverbow Inn with Breakfast ($180)

$50 Gift Certificate from In Boca al Lupo or the Rookery ($50)

$25 Gift Certificate from Kindred Post ($25)

2 Perseverance Theatre Travel Mugs ($40)

14th Prize: “Glengarry Glen Gross” Rose Foley

A Night at the Movies for 2 from Gross Alaska Theatres ($50)

$25 Gift Card from El Sombrero ($25)

Four Pints of Hand-packed Ice Cream from Coppa ($40)

2 Perseverance Theatre Tee-shirts ($40)

AAPI Community Conversation

Lewis Chapman Featured, Live Stream, Uncategorized

May 26
Live-streamed at 6:00 p.m. AKDT

To celebrate Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Perseverance Theatre is hosting a Community Conversation led by Artistic Director, Leslie Ishii, on May 26 at 6 p.m. AKDT. Additional panelists include Adriana Li, Dennis Arashiro, and Edric Carrillo.

The event is free and open to the public and will be live-streamed to Perseverance Theatre’s Facebook and YouTube. A link will also be posted on the webpage,

Adriana Li is a Program Coordinator and Instructor of IMPACT and IMPACT: Ability programs, since 2017. She has worked at Triangle, Inc. since January 2017, serving adults with disabilities to focus on advocacy and independence in the workplace. She comes from a background of arts & education, holding a bachelor’s degree in theater from Pine Manor College. She has been a youth educator/mentor in various museum and K-8 school programs since 2008.

“As a mixed race Chinese American, like many in my community, I am all too familiar with the disparities of race-based harassment, intersectional microaggressions, and what seems like endless years of Asians in this country being treated like they are invisible or disposable people. Whenever they are visible, it’s in a light that is convenient to the surveyor and only seen as a fraction of who we truly are. In this time of increased violence and discrimination based on the excuse of the pandemic, I am deeply saddened and in fear of wanting to protect my community and my loved ones from this senselessness. I am looking forward to engaging in more conversations to build awareness and continuing to teach self-defense strategies to hopefully connect us and truly put an end to this increasing divide.”

Dennis Arashiro was born in 1952 in Honolulu, Hawaii, of an Okinawan Nisei father and Japanese war bride mother and grew up in Hawaii with a multiethnic extended family. He came to Alaska at the age of 8 when his father was stationed at Fort Richardson. Graduating from East Anchorage High School in 1970, he earned his BA in History and Language and Literature at Alaska Methodist University in 1973.

He was a Social Studies teacher in the Anchorage School District for 43 years before fully retiring. He has chaired Social Justice at the Anchorage Unitarian Universalist Fellowship for the past 10 years and now serves as Board President of the Alaska Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League.

“The Declaration of Independence identifies the unalienable rights of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” For many in the Asian American Pacific Islander community, our journey has involved the pursuit of acceptance. Our challenge is to identify what American dream to pursue.”

Edric Carrillo is the Board Secretary/Board Member at the Filipino Community, Inc. Center in Juneau, which aims to foster better and harmonious relationships with fellow Filipinos and other cultural groups, and keep Filipino heritage, culture, customs, and traditions alive. They help in enhancing the integration of Filipinos into mainstream America to be of better service not only to the Filipino-American community, but to the general public as well.

“Growing up in Alaska as a minority I’ve at times, felt lost, and without a voice. As I’ve grown up I’ve realized these things can be found by learning about and sharing your culture with one another. Though the AAPI community is vast, we have lots of shared experiences that allow us to better understand one another. We must extend our culture and experiences beyond the AAPI community. By doing so it will bring us together and together we will be heard.”

Leslie Ishii is the current Artistic Director of Perseverance Theatre. She debuted as an actor in Northwest Asian American Theater’s Breaking The Silence that raised legal funds for WWII US Concentration Camp Resister, Gordon Hirabayashi’s Supreme Court Case.

Leslie’s passion for directing has her working deep in community at many theatres and programs that feature multiracial casts and artists of color. She has directed with Perseverance Theatre, East West Players, Artists At Play, Northwest Asian American Theatre, Center Theatre Group, and Universities and Colleges throughout the US.

Leslie founded/Produces the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) API 2×2 Lab New Works Residency (2014-present) with two assistant directorships at OSF. Leslie has developed actor training and directing methods for artists of color based in anti-racism/liberation theory as a response to American/Western European conservatory training. She continues to teach and collaborate with an anti-racism/equity and decolonizing imperative. Awards include Teachers Making A Difference; Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival Integrity Award; SDC 2016, 2017 National Standout Recognition for championing equity/inclusion.

“With the on-going escalation of anti-Asian/Pacific Islander hate and violence, our Asian/Pacific Islander Heritage month is a timely opportunity to uplift Asian/Pacific Islander leaders and the important work they are doing within our communities. We welcome everyone to tune in as we also address strategies and resources to empower us all to keep our communities aware and safe as we navigate these pandemics.”

Leslie will also be moderating an unprecedented conversation amongst Asian-American theatre leaders paving the way for the next generation with Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF). That event will take place on Monday, May 24 at 5 p.m. PDT. It can be viewed at or

The Community Conversation from Perseverance Theatre will live-stream to the theatre’s Facebook ( and YouTube ( starting at 6 p.m. AKDT on Wednesday, May 26. The event is free and open to the public, but donations are always welcome and appreciated at