Those of you who made it out to Sandy Beach this May for Anna Gagne-Hawes and Ishmael Hope's presentation of Dave Hunsaker's "Lady Rankin Meets the Pagan," were likely struck by the casual intimacy of the production.
With the exception of a few choice seats on logs, most of the crowd reclined in the sand. A campfire kept a sort of relaxed counterpoint to the ships passing by in the channel. The weather was remarkably warm and comfortable. It seemed like the perfect setting for a play, and it all worked in favor of the story, which tried to take you back to 1870s Sitka.
Hawes' Victorian Englishwoman (Lady Rankin) was believable, as she shed her schoolmarm-ish disguise to reveal her true lack of inhibition as a "woman of the world." Hope's Kadashan William (the Pagan) completed the transformation-cycle, as a disillusioned Tlingit who idealizes the Christian God.
Last summer, a few months after the play had ended, local filmmaker Greg Chaney took Gagne-Hawes, Hope and actress Lily Hudson to a couple of remote beaches to film the play on digital video. In local film circles, Chaney is known for his work with his son, Connor, in the Juneau Underground Motion Picture festivals.
The result is a 26- to 27-minute version of the play that will screen at 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 5, at the Back Room at the Silverbow. The DVD includes outtakes, flubbed scenes and a short trailer. Admission is free, but donations will be accepted.
Chaney's version, of course, cannot be quite as intimate as two actors performing in front of a campfire a few feet in front of you. But he does a good job of capturing the isolation, and the desperation of both the lady and the pagan, with his choice of locale.