PUBLISHED: 12:11 PM on Wednesday, July 27, 2005
STAR students to perform three plays

Photo by: Dennis Kelly
  Staff/Artists of the STAR program. Left to right, Back Row: Angela Thrower, Lindy Steele
Middle Row: Dennis Kelly, Bo Anderson, Danyon Davis, Roblin Davis, Anna Gange-Hawes
Front Row: Shona Strauser, Kathleen Harper
In a town as artistic as Juneau, it's not surprising that some of its younger residents have developed an interest in theater. What is perhaps more unusual is the fact that these students are willing to spend five weeks of their summer vacation working extremely hard to hone their craft.

As part of Perseverance Theatre's STAR program, or Summer Theatre Arts Rendezvous, 38 students spend four hours a day, five days a week, rehearsing plays and learning about all of the aspects that go in to putting on a successful production. What they've learned is then showcased in public performances that demonstrate the new skills that they've acquired.

"It is really amazing to watch these kids develop into such great little actors," said David Charles Goyette, director of education for Perseverance Theatre. "Every Friday, I get to see a little piece of each play that they are doing, and I am always amazed at how cute, or quirky, or funny, or touching their performances are."

Photo by: Dennis Kelly
  Romeo and Juilet rehersal. Left to right: Lydia Steele, Laura Steele, Leona Schrader-Dee
Students audition to take part in the STAR program, which is open to kids ages 10 to 17. Once accepted, they choose which play they would like to participate in from a set of three. "This year, students will be performing a Tlingit tale called The Salmon Boy, a mask and puppet show called Preposterous, and William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet," said Goyette.

During the first three weeks of the program, students learn the text and rehearse. The fourth week is spent at the University of Alaska Southeast's Noyes Pavilion where they take part in technical rehearsals before they perform the plays in public the final week.

"One of the things that's really exciting about the STAR program is that it not only benefits the students by helping them to build confidence and to learn how to express themselves, but it benefits the community, too," said Goyette. "A lot of the people who attend the student performances might not otherwise have the opportunity to hear native stories in a theatrical setting, or to see Shakespeare's play performed by actors who are actually the ages of the characters. Putting Romeo and Juliet into a youth context gives it a totally different read than seeing it performed by 30-year-old actors."

Photo by: Dennis Kelly
  Liam Macaulay in the Mask & Puppetry class.
Though some of STAR's participants have acted before or taken part in previous STAR programs, others are completely new to the craft. Through a partnership with Sealaska Heritage Institute, a large number of native students are also participating in STAR this year through their scholarship program.

"About half of our students have experience or a history with our company, and the other half haven't done any performing before," said Goyette. "What's really wonderful is watching all of them learn to express themselves in ways that they never thought possible."

All of the performances, which cost $8 for adults and $5 for students, will be performed at the Noyes Pavilion, and a schedule can be found at under Upcoming Events. The shows will take place between July 29th and August 6th.

"These plays are really something that everyone, from parents to kids, can enjoy seeing," said Goyette. "These actors show amazing talent."