The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

By Ron Holmstrom
Special to the Star 

Theatre Conference ends on high note yet again

Cast of characters, writers and directors say happy trails


The twenty-second edition of the Last Frontier Theatre Conference has ended with most participants hoping to return next year. After a full week of day and night workshops, play readings and evening performances, most were weary but happy.

Although it is impossible to take in all of the events, everyone seemed to have tried to see and do as much as possible and the mood at the Saturday night Gala was upbeat. The presentation of the Jerry Harper Service Award to Mary Helen and Stan Stephens was touching and well-deserved. It was wonderful to watch Mary Helen accept the award for herself and her greatly missed late husband, Stan. And returning Valdez actor/writer/director, Ryan Buen did a fine job as Master of Ceremonies. Buen now resides in Los Angeles, where he continues his work in our business.

A brand new edition to this year's gala was the first presentation of the Timothy Daly Travel Scholarship Award. It went to Nicholas Walker Herbert. A noted Australian playwright, Daly developed the award to provide the means for young playwrights to travel and experience a bit of the world out there. Daly presented the award to Mr. Herbert at the Gala and was also a welcome addition as a responder at this year's Play Lab. Many playwrights said that they found Daly's responses to their plays in the lab to be particularly insightful and inspiring.

"This year went very well and scheduling the morning start times for the Play Lab to 10 a.m. seemed to provide a more relaxed atmosphere," said Dawson Moore, conference coordinator and general Valdez bon vivant, in a post-conference interview.

There has been some concern about Prince William Sound Community College becoming a true satellite of the UAA system and how that would affect the conference, but after speaking with the new president, Dan O'Connor, it appears that those fears can be safely put to rest.

Photo courtesy Ron Holmstrom

The big gala that marks the end of the Last Frontier Theatre Conference and gives attendees a big send off. Above actor, director and TV personality Ron Holmstrom (from left to right) shares some fresh air with playwrights Timothy Daly, John DiFusco and Vince Melocchi.

O'Connor said in a phone conversation following the final weekend that he thought the conference was "fantastic." Further, he added, "I think this, (becoming a UAA satellite,) is a natural transition. We are so fortunate to have this cast of people attending. It is good for the whole community. Dawson works so hard on this and I think we will make a pretty good team."

Moore is also pleased about O'Connor's enthusiasm for the conference.

It is always bitter-sweet when all of this Valdez theatre business comes to an end and everyone is catching planes and cars to head home, but the atmosphere was certainly optimistic, with everyone looking forward to the next one.

The Last Frontier Theatre Conference is certainly in good hands.

See you next year!


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