Discovering the “road weeps”

by Joanne Alcantara
from the Perseverance Theatre in Juneau, Alaska
Volume VII. May-July 2013

The road weeps, the well runs dry opened on May 3rd at Perseverance Theatre in Juneau, Alaska, running for four weeks in the most challenging slot of the mainstage season. April snow birthed a late spring, which bloomed with a burst of life energy. For this little town, May is the most difficult time to sell a show. When the sun comes out, as it very occasionally does, locals ditch work, school and even the theatre to soak in the precious light and the short-lived heat that it brings. In spring, Juneau’s heart beats to the return of the salmon, nesting of the eagles and waking of the bears. So, even with a tremendous show on the Perseverance stage, nature drives the course of the run.

With these forces at work, Marcus Gardley (writer) and Nakissa Etemad (dramaturg) came to town and hit the pavement, drumming up curiosity, interest and support for their beautiful play. The duo met with University of Alaska students, high school students, radio stations, writers and the public to share the process of creating the “road weeps.” The energy that Gardley and Etemad sparked brought different faces to the theatre, including some who had never attended a Perseverance production before.

To support the future development of the play, audience members were given surveys, tucked into their programs. One of the questions asked if they could relate to the story. A respondent cheered, “Are you kidding? This is a play about witches, half-breeds, escaped slaves and marauding Indians. I could relate better to Treasure Island! But it’s lots of fun to watch!” Another person wrote, “Yes. Oppression, displacement, cruelty and power struggles and generation consequences plague my family system.” This type of range, in response to the play, was typical. This was not a play that pleased every subscriber or ticket holder, but in the last weekend of the run, with the weather sunny and the theatre half full, audiences gave repeated standing ovations.

In Juneau, the community that gathered around the road weeps included students, writers, theatre artists and folks on the fringe. The themes of love, family, betrayal and longing hit a wide range and the conversation during each show’s intermission revealed audience members working to understand the complex relationships within the play. Those who cheered this work often also related to the threads around sexuality, displacement and the mixing of cultures. Others simply enjoyed the beauty of the stage, the performance of the actors and the sounds of the script playing before them.

Considering the Perseverance 2012-2013 season, Artistic Director Art Rotch reflected, “There are some shows that meet our goal of breadth, like Oklahoma!, and others that provide depth. The road weeps was a play that met depth.”

As Perseverance looks forward to the 2013-2014 season and plans ahead for 2014-2015, it carries the lessons and successes from the process of working on the road weeps... To provide additional feedback for the writer or the theatre on the production of the road weeps, the well runs dry, please email info@perseverancetheatre.org.

moon

Jake Waid and Charles Wallace as Trowbridge and Number 2. Photo by Art Rotch.

 

trees

Austin Tagaban and Jude Tibeau as Young Trowbridge and Young Number 2

 

This entry was posted in Juneau, AK, Volume VII. May-July 2013. Bookmark the permalink.