With plays, concerts and slide shows, this weekend offers a wealth of activities.
Dave Hunsaker's "Jason and Medea," a new take on the familiar Greek myth, shows at 8 p.m. tonight and Saturday at the University of Alaska Southeast's outdoor amphitheater. I watched a rehearsal of the play on Monday, and it's beautiful. The doomed love story of Jason and Medea is heartwrenching in its own right, but by combining music, mask work and playing up the culture clash between Jason and Medea's worlds, Hunsaker's telling gives a familiar tale deeper meaning.
That meaning is enhanced by the atmosphere of the outdoor theater, which lends "Jason and Medea" a valuable immediacy. The wooden benches, flickering fire and rustling trees all lend a realism to the events taking place; as Medea, Kim Gillingham can literally dig into the earth and smear soot on her forehead. She and Hunsaker both give strong, committed performances, and are supported well by the four musicians who contribute to the piece. Sound carries well in the amphitheater, and Marta Ann Lastufka's generally ad-libbed vocals are incredibly haunting.
All of the Breadloaf and UAS-sponsored summer productions have been fantastic, and "Jason and Medea" is no exception. However, dressing warmly and bringing bug repellent is key, particularly if it rains. The area is covered by a tarp, but even on a sunny day, it was fairly chilly. Dress sensibly, and bear in mind that "Jason," with its rich dialogue and sobering themes, is probably not for very small children.
The Juneau International Folk Dancers will meet from 7:30 to 10 p.m. Friday at the Juneau Dance Unlimited Studio. This is one of only three JIFD dances during the summer, and it's worth checking out, particularly as Camp Damp is coming up in August. Call Judy at 586-6237 for more information.
Another strong offering this weekend is the Juneau Lyric Opera's Mid-Summer Workshop performance of "Carmina Burana," at 7 p.m. Saturday night at the Juneau-Douglas High School auditorium. With conducting by Byron McGilvray, a chorus 84 members strong and solos by six well-known JLO performers, this should be a powerhouse show. "Carmina Burana" is an energetic, powerful piece of music, and even those who eschew opera have probably encountered selections from it in movies or car commercials. The piece is sung in a mix of Latin and Old German, but with scenes taking place in taverns and the "Court of Love," the underlying ideas should be easily translatable.
"It doesn't tell any particular story," said McGilvray. "It's just a collection of poems that apply to love and drinking and ... having a good time."
Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for students/seniors, and can be purchased at either Hearthside Books location or at the door.
Also on Saturday night, the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council will host a side show by Inga Bjork, a photographer visiting from Sweden, at 7:30 p.m. at the Goldtown Nickelodeon theater in the Emporium Mall. The show, "Reflections from Thule," integrates pictures and stories from the three years Bjork spent among the Inughuit in Northern Greenland.
Bjork's photos can be viewed on her Web site at http://hem.passagen.se/inga.bjork. The Greenland photos are in black and white, and the technique is used to striking effect. In each of the pictures, the lighting lends them a haunting, almost other-worldly quality, and the backgrounds and framing used is also quite beautiful. Bjork manages to both capture the sweep and grandeur of the environment and maintain a sense of connection with the subjects. It's a combination that makes for striking pictures, and leaves the viewer curious about the stories behind them. The cost for the show is $5 at the door.
Those who prefer to spend time outside can participate in Trail Mix's Volunteer Trail Work Day on Saturday. This year, the goal is to improve the Treadwell Ditch Trail. Volunteers should meet at 9 a.m. at the new trailhead parking lot at the end of Jackson Street in the Blueberry Hills subdivision, and should bring gloves, water and a good lunch.