Perseverance launches cross-training workshops

Posted: Sunday, June 23, 2002

Students are coming from as far away as France to attend Perseverance Theatre's third Crosstraining Summer Writing and Performance Project.

Two of the eight classes are filled, but space is available for students interested in directing, playwriting and other topics.

Crosstraining is a 10-day intensive training program that begins the evening of June 26 and runs through July 5 at Perseverance Theatre.

The title refers to the program's philosophy of encouraging artists and writers to find inspiration and insight from related artistic disciplines, and to foster collaboration between theater artists and writers.

"You can learn so much about your own discipline by experimenting with another," said Anita Maynard-Losh, an associate artistic director at Perseverance. "By approaching it from a different point of view, you get a sense of what other disciplines are like and that may spark something inside of your own discipline.

"The classes are meant for people to experiment and try new things. I would encourage people to overcome their apprehension because many people will be trying something new."

Crosstraining can help people develop skills or introduce them to new fields. Some classes are taught by Perseverance staff, others by guest instructors. Class size is limited to 12, which enables the instructors to work with students at their own levels.

"The classes are so small, they're suitable for people moving forward from whatever level they're at," said Maynard-Losh. "Someone who has written a play can work with Bridget (Carpenter) on developing it. Or someone who has never written a play and has an idea and just wants to know how you would go about putting that in dramatic form can work with Bridget."

Los Angeles-based playwright Bridget Carpenter is serving as a writer-in-residence at Perseverance. Her new play, "The Man in the Flying Lawn Chair Play," will be staged at Perseverance next season. Her plays have been produced by theaters across the United States.

Other classes include a design class taught by Art Rotch of Perseverance, and directing taught by the theater's artistic director, Peter DuBois. DuBois' class, site-specific directing, will focus on directing in rooms that are not theaters and taking advantage of the architecture and layout of the space.

Leon Ingulsrud will teach a combined acting and directing class. Ingulsrud served as co-creator of the Perseverance productions "Moby Dick" and "Short Stories." He earned his master's of fine arts from Columbia University and cofounded the SITI Theater Company in New York.

"Leon's directing class has to do with the process you go through developing a piece like 'Moby Dick,' " Maynard-Losh said. "Developing a performance piece out of something text-based."

Thalia Field, a professor in the creative writing department at Brown University, will teach poetry and fiction. Performer Michelle Spencer of Colorado will teach choreography with collaborators, a look at dance composition and design that accommodates people who do not have dance or choreography experience.

"Spencer designs the class around the interests of the students and may approach it from a slightly different perspective depending on the class," Maynard-Losh said. She added that students who were unable to get into Spencer's performance class, which is filled, could benefit from the choreography class.

Field, Carpenter, Spencer and other Crosstraining instructors will perform and read their work at a free public event Tuesday, July 2, at Perseverance Theatre. There will be a reading from 6 to 8 p.m. and performances from 8 to 10 p.m.

Maynard-Losh said students from throughout Alaska and from New York, Colorado and France have signed up for the program. The cost is $225 for one class, with a discount of about 20 percent for additional classes. Each class is about two hours a day, and students are advised to plan for an additional three hours a day of homework. Classes are taught during the day and in evenings. Call Perseverance at 364-2421, ext. 23, for a schedule of class times and more information.

Riley Woodford can be reached at rileyw@juneauempire.com.



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