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As we head into the month of August, there's plenty of quality entertainment available.
Perseverance Theatre's STAR students begin their performances this week. They'll be putting on two main stage shows - "The Tempest" and "Crazy Corpus." They've very different, but share great performance and intense dedication from the youths presenting them.
Though a wide range of ages - from 8 to 17 - are represented, these plays don't feel like "student" performances. At a Tuesday night dress rehearsal for "The Tempest," the kids were belting out classic Shakespeare lines with more passion and conviction than I've seen from professional actors. They appear to be utterly committed to the material from entrance to exit, and the dark and humorous themes of the play are handled with equal ease.
While "The Tempest" isn't as flat-out amusing as last summer's "A Midsummer Night's Dream," there are still brilliant instances of comic relief, a sweet love story, and plenty of raging and storming from Prospero. In a surprisingly effective device, characters are split between the actors, who trade off lines or speak in unison. Even if you've seen "The Tempest" performed before, Perseverance's version is worth checking out. Director Nancy Coursen Buttenheim and her talented cast have managed to imbue it with an energy that's completely new and fresh.
For something completely new, "Crazy Corpus" is a student-penned play that combines mask work, clowning, music and singing in a madcap "physical theater odyssey." Director Roblin Gray Davis and his students created their masks themselves, and have built their tale around the various definitions of "crazy." Elements of myth were incorporated and used for inspiration by the 16 performers, who sounded enthusiastic about their show when I spoke to them on Tuesday. Many are new to STAR in general and clowning and mask work in particular, but they spoke with confidence about the new skills and abilities they've picked up over the month of work. "Crazy Corpus" promises to be an energetic, immensely entertaining show.
Performances for "The Tempest" began Thursday and continue at Perseverance Theatre in Douglas at 7 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, 7 p.m. Aug. 8 and Aug. 10, and 2 p.m. Aug. 11. "Crazy Corpus" opens tonight at 7 p.m., and shows at the theater at 2 p.m. Saturday, 7 p.m. Sunday, 7 p.m. Aug. 7, 9 and 11. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under, and are available at both Hearthside Books locations and at the door.
Also opening this weekend is CrossSound 2001, a festival of new music performed by local artists. This year's line-up includes instruments ranging from cello to mandolin; also added to the mix are the sounds of piano and vocals. Composers from around the world contributed pieces, and three of them - Paul Cox of Cleveland, Marti Epstein of Boston and Stefan Hakenberg of Juneau - have been in town working with musicians for a week.
CrossSound provides Juneau residents with a chance to hear a different sort of music. Epstein found that working with each musician's unique talents and sound eventually strengthened her piece, "Chant." Cox was able to bring his memories of growing up in Alaska to bear in a piece that mixes words and music. Each of the compositions are unique, all but one are original and they are played by talented local artists. Check out the concert at 7 tonight at Northern Light United Church. If you like what you hear, a second concert of entirely new music will be performed in November. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for students and seniors. A $25 package can be purchased for both concerts.
Finally, anyone willing to travel should consider the Southeast Alaska State Fair in Haines. This year's fair, as indicated by its "A Family - A Fair" slogan, is geared toward families, and many of the activities and attractions will appeal to children. The fair begins Aug. 8 and continues until Aug. 12 at the fairground in Haines. Admission is $5 a day, with children 5 and under free. Call (907) 766-2476 for details on transportation.