Build pool of local talent at theater

Posted: Friday, October 05, 2007

This is in regard to your article on P.J. Paparelli, Perseverance Theatre's artistic director, and his decision to take another artistic directorship in Chicago. I must take exception to the discussion regarding the use of outside artists at Perseverance.

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Although it may not have been his intention, Paparelli makes it sound as though Perseverance has not had a tradition of "cross pollination" of ideas from outside actors in the past, and he seems to imply that the artistic community at the theater has been insular and closed off since its inception. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Molly Smith and the original founders always welcomed outside talent, and the theater has always drawn from the experiences of artists from other places (for example, playwright Paula Vogel taught classes several times at Perseverance and ultimately wrote her Pulitzer prize-winning play "How I Learned to Drive" while in residence here).

But it was also important to foster local talent and to train from within Juneau to build an artistic base here, rather than solely rely on talent from outside. (Anybody remember the Alaska Repertory Theater?) By using local resources, you can do things more economically for one thing, but you also build a pool of artistic talent with solid roots in the community, which is what has kept Perseverance Theatre going for almost 30 years.

I wish Paparelli luck in his new position and look forward to working with Perseverance in the future. I also encourage the community to continue its great support of this remarkable Alaska arts organization.

Gina Spartz


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