PUBLISHED: 5:22 PM on Wednesday, September 3, 2008
'A lark of a season' in store at Perseverance Theatre
DOUGLAS - This week's premiere of "The Government Inspector" will kick off a unique year for Perseverance Theatre. The theatre's 2008-2009 season will commemorate the 50th anniversary of statehood, the 30th anniversary of the theatre and the first season with new artistic director Art Rotch.

Katie Spielberger photo
  Flordelino Lagundino (left), Dan Reaume (center) and Christina Apathy rehearse a scene from "The Government Inspector"
In selecting this season's plays, Rotch looked to commemorate the anniversaries of the state and theatre - both celebrate their birthdays on Jan. 3 - while also touching on some political themes in light of this election season. He also wanted to include as much comedy as possible.

"It's a little bit of a lark of a season," Rotch said.

Two productions by local playwrights will be part of a special Statehood celebration in the spring, during which a special anniversary event will also be held.

Audiences will find some resonances among the six main-stage productions, beginning with the first two productions of the season, "The Government Inspector" and "Doubt," both of which explore how we determine who can be believed and trusted.

"They do seem to speak to each other," Rotch said. "(The Government Inspector) will really help you with 'Doubt' ... already knowing that it's a little hopeless. (And) because it has this Alaskan locale, it will help you think about Alaskan today which will feed into the two pieces about statehood."

Perseverance has been typically performing one Shakespeare play each season, but Rotch chose to deviate from the tradition this year, choosing instead the comedy "Wittenberg," which explores what Hamlet would be like if he were in college, with Martin Luther and Faustus as professors.

Perseverance Theatre upcoming season

• Sept. 7 - Oct. 5: The Government Inspector, by Nikolai Gogol and directed by Emma Griffin

• Nov. 2 - 30 Doubt: A Parable, by John Patrick Shanley and directed by Flordelino Lagundino

• Jan. 4 - Feb. 1: Wittenberg, by David Davalos and directed by Michael Stevenson

• Mar. 1 - Apr. 5: Battles of Fire and Water, by David Hunsaker and directed by Laurie McCants

• April. 3-12: Eight Stars of Gold, by Ryan Conarro and Maia K. Nolan and directed by Ryan Conarro

• April 26 - May 17: O Lovely Glowworm, by Glen Berger and directed by Wier Harman

"One of the questions I had to tackle is, do we do a Shakespeare play every year as (former artistic director PJ Papparelli) did, or do we just make fun of (Shakespeare)?" said Rotch, calling "Wittenberg," by David Davalos, "one of the funniest tings I've read in my life."

He said in future seasons audiences would likely see Shakespeare again, and at least one classical play each season. But his commitment to comedy will carry on.

"I think there's going to be more comedy in the future," Rotch said.

Rotch, who was born in Boston, lived in Juneau for 14 years before moving back east for graduate school. During his years in Juneau, he designed a number of Perseverance productions and was involved with many other local arts groups, including Opera To Go, Theatre in the Rough, Juneau Lyric Opera and the JDHS drama department.

Rotch received at MFA in Design from New York University's Tisch School in 2005, where he studied set and lighting design for the state. This summer Rotch returned to Juneau with his wife, set designer and painter Akiko Nishijima.

"I'm interested in coming back to Alaska and figuring out what's changed and what hasn't," Rotch said.