Best bets

Posted: Friday, August 04, 2000

This is a banner weekend for entertainment in Juneau.

August tends to be a slow month in the local arts scene, but the next few days are a notable exception. There will be six performances of two different plays, and tonight is the opening of an art exhibit.

``Cuchulain's Fight with the Sea,'' plays at 8 p.m. tonight, Saturday and Sunday and all performances are free. Cuchulain (pronounced Ca-hoolan) was a legendary warrior in Irish mythology, and the Irish poet William Butler Yeats wrote a number of poems and plays about him. Juneau writer Dave Hunsaker has adapted these for the current production.

Several years ago Hunsaker wrote and staged another production based on Irish mythology, ``Tales of Ossian.'' That excellent play included many of the same talented people now involved in ``Cuchulain'' - Aaron Elmore and Katie Jensen, and Hunsaker and Andy Ferguson performing as Celtic musicians. ``Cuchulain'' also features Alana Malone, Tracy Masonis and Ekatrina Oleksa.

They're drawing on traditional Japanese Kabuki theater techniques for flavor and style, and it promises to be interesting. Years ago, Perseverance Theatre used Kabuki and Noh theater styles for a play called ``Water of Life'' and it worked well.

Given the considerable talent involved in ``Cuchulain'' all the way around - writing, staging, acting and playing music - I am confident this will be well worth seeing.

The show is outside at an outdoor theater set up at the University of Alaska Southeast. Park in the Egan Library upper lot, and take the short trail to the clearing. Given our unpredictable weather, they've covered the area. Hunsaker suggests bringing a pillow to soften the seating, and a blanket would be nice if it's a chilly evening.

``A Midsummer Night's Dream,'' opens tonight for a two-day run at Perseverance Theatre. It's a show rich in masks and costumes, and a play about magic and mischief in the glades of ancient Greece is well suited for this treatment.

``A Midsummer Night's Dream'' is the highlight of a month-long youth Shakespeare program at Perseverance. I checked out a rehearsal this week and the young actors and actresses were impressive. Directors Roblin Davis and Nancy Buttenheim were working them hard, and the cast was loving it. They were serious and for the most part they were moving and speaking like actors. They had embraced Shakespeare's poetry and dialogue and they were running with it.

This looks to me to be more than a recital. Student recitals and plays can be entertaining and are really important to the young performers. But they tend to be a lot more interesting if your kid is involved. I don't think that's necessarily the case here.

``A Midsummer Night's Dream'' goes on at 7 p.m. tonight, and at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday at Perseverance Theatre. Admission is $8 and $5 for those under 12.

Mask maker and performer Roblin Davis will lead a free Mask Performance Workshop from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Saturday at Perseverance Theatre. He'll demonstrate and teach the essentials of mask theater. Davis grew up in Anchorage and spent years studying theater before moving to Juneau two years ago. It's been a great addition for us. He designed and directed ``Fry Tales'' this spring, another production that featured custom-made masks and mask theater performing techniques.

Juneau artist Roxanne Turner has an exhibit opening tonight at the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council Gallery. She has about 20 pastel drawings and monotype prints, all featuring trees. These are not landscapes, but portraits that really capture her subjects. Her last show was impressive. The opening reception is 4:30 to 7 p.m., and the exhibit shows through Aug. 29.

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