The Skin of Our Teeth by Thorton Wilder
Sept. 11- Oct. 4, 2009
Leading Ladies by Ken Ludwig
Nov. 6-Dec. 6, 2009
Eurydice by Sarah Ruhl
Jan. 8-31, 2010
boom! by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb
Feb. 26 - March 21, 2010
Hansel & Gretel
April 23 - May 30, 2010
For tickets and more information, visit www.perseverancetheatre.org or call 463-TIXS.
Story last updated at 9/9/2009 - 11:36 am
JUNEAU - Plays exploring the theme of "optimism" will light up the Perseverance stage during the 2009-2010 season. The season kicks off this weekend with Thorton Wilder's "The Skin of Our Teeth."
When thinking about plays for this season, Perseverance artistic director Art Rotch pulled out his old copy of "The Skin of Our Teeth," and found that the classic play seemed a good fit to perform this year at in Juneau.
Written at the end of the Great Depression, and on the brink of U.S. involvement in World War II, "The Skin of Our Teeth" takes a look at how history repeats itself. The play was written to be uplifting to depression-era audiences with the message that hard times will always come, but they will also always pass again.
Concerns of audiences during the depression are certainly timely today as well, Rotch said. And as the play is set in both the early 20th century and the dawn of the ice age, the setting could resonate with an Alaskan audience.
"Dealing with climate change is very Alaskan," Rotch said. "The play takes place in geologic time. It's easier to be aware of that span of time in Alaska than in New Jersey (where the play takes place)."
As a play within a play, "The Skin of Our Teeth," also explores the difficulties of putting a show up, which can be seen as a metaphor for the difficulty of living, Rotch said, adding, "It takes a lot of optimism to try to put on a play."
"The Skin of Our Teeth" is rich in ideas, but the production will not be too heady, Rotch said.
"It's a very human production, not an intellectual production," Rotch said. "It's got all the poignancy and big heart of (Wilder's) 'Our Town' - and then it's got dinosaurs."
SEASON OF OPTIMISM
Following the selected of "The Skin of Our Teeth," Rotch started thinking about the rest of the season around the theme of optimism as a basic human quality. "We tend to get up every morning and start again - what else can we do as human beings?" he said.
This season's productions will explore the different dimensions of optimism - from the warranted to the completely unfounded and misguided.
"Sometimes the people who are optimistic are desperate, or hustlers," Rotch said.
Optimistic hustlers arrive in the second play of the season, the comedy "Leading Ladies" by Ken Ludwig, in which two struggling Shakespearean actors try to pass themselves off as heirs - or is it heiresses? - to a fortune.
"It takes 'Some Like it Hot' and Mark Twin and throws it all into a blender," Rotch said. "It's a terrific piece of writing."
Although there are no premieres in the season, two productions will feature original music. "Eurydice," Sarah Ruhl's retelling of the Greek classic, will incorporate new compositions by Ed Littlefield. And "Hansel & Gretel," the season's final offering, will feature new musical arrangements by Bob Banghart.
These productions allow the theatre to explore ways to incorporate music into plays in ways other than tradition musicals, Rotch said.
With "Hansel & Gretel," the theatre hopes to reach a family audience, in a conscious effort to increase family programming. Another family production this season will be "This Wonderful Life," a one man production based on "It's a Wonderful Life," to be staged in December.
Rounding out the season is "boom!" by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb, which has something of a survivalist theme Alaskans might identify with, Rotch said.
"It's a terrific and quirky piece," Rotch said. "It'll do really well in Juneau."
In planning this season and the future of Perseverance, Rotch has a new partner this year in Jeffrey Rogers, who joined the Perseverance staff in June as the new managing director.
Rogers said that he and Rotch have been looking at each season as a "meal of many courses" to be enjoyed and thought about as a set. And as far as this season's meal goes, it should have wide appeal.
"It's a really broad season," Rogers said. "There's more in it for everyone than any season (before)."
"The Skin of Our Teeth" opens Friday, Sept. 11 at 7:30 p.m. and runs through Oct. 4. There will be pay-as-you-can preview performances Wednesday, Sept. 9 and Sunday, Sept. 13, both at 7:30 p.m.