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

Bill Johnson for Alaska House

By RON HOLMSTROM
Special to the Star 

Three days left in week of all-things theatre in the twenty-fifth conference

Energy pulses from the Civic Center to other hot spots all around town

 


Just in case anyone has missed the first few days of this influx of all-things-theatre that invades Valdez every summer, there is much more coming.

There are still three days left of the Last Frontier Theatre Conference, (LFTC,) filled with workshops, classes, evening performances and, of course, the very heart of the event: The Play Lab.

The Lab is the on-going daily event in which new and established playwrights get to hear their work read by actors before an audience and then critiqued by panels of theatre professionals. To put the lab in it’s proper perspective; a great many of these first-time works have gone on to professional productions throughout the world, so you could very well be among the first to witness a future hit show.

Upcoming for the next days will be classes and mini-seminars on the rehearsal process, improvisation for actors, an introduction to dramaturgy, a monologue workshop, a ten-minute play slam and a whole lot more.

Every day at 9:00 a.m. Meg McKinney leads Morning Warm-Up Yoga. Here is your chance to get those bodies and minds limbered-up before the conference day begins. Thursday and Friday are the final two days for Play Lab, with readings going on from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. After lunch on Thursday and Friday presents an opportunity to catch a glimpse into the nuts and bolts of theatre by attending an hour-long session with theatre pros from around the globe.

On Friday night after the dinner break, Stan Stephens Cruises provides a two-hour cruise to Shoup Glacier for conference participants. It is a credit to the company that this excursion continues as part of the generous legacy of the late great Stan Stephens.

On Saturday at 10:30 a.m. the Monologue Workshop, conducted by Laura Gardner and Frank Collison will perform the works that have been in rehearsal all week. The Ten-Minute Play Slam directed by Carrie Yanagawa will play at 12:45 p.m.

The Fringe Festival is the after-hours event for those who feel that ten or so hours of non-stop theatre goings-on just aren’t enough. Or for those locals who would like to unwind with a cocktail and see some short and generally off the wall pieces of theatre in a very relaxed setting, this is for you too. Coordinated by Janna Shaw and hosted by Rob Lacrone, the Fringe takes place in the Mariner’s Room at the Best Western Hotel. Thursday is the last night to catch it at approximately 10:00 p.m. after the evening performance at the center.

The last evening of the conference wraps up with the Gala, beginning with a reception on the Civic Center lawn at 5:00 p.m. Cast and playwright group photos are taken at 6:00 p.m. and at 6:30 p.m. Dinner is served with benefactor recognition by Don O’Connor, PWSC president, and the presentation of the Jerry Harper Service Award to Sandy Harper.

Although she will be unable to attend this year, conference co-founder Dr. Jo Ann McDowell, former PWSC president, sent along these words: “I can't say enough about what Sandy and Jerry did for the conference. They were the first people I went to when we started the conference in 1992 - they immediately said yes, whatever you need. They did so much of Edward’s, (Albee,) work year after year- they always came through for me. I am grateful and I love them.”

We must note that since last year’s conference, we have lost some dear friends that contributed greatly to this event: Actor Harold V. Fergus, playwright William Hoffman, Play Lab founder Michael Warren Powell and Edward Albee, (who with Marshall W. Mason and Dr. McDowell began this endeavor so many years ago.) These were people who contributed much to our lively art and will be long remembered as people whose wit we now sadly lack.

There is so much going on each day and evening that I have come to describe the conference as "great, grueling fun."

Your best bet for figuring out what you want to do or see is to either pick up the program at the conference front desk at the Civic Center or go to the website.

As we now look to at least the next twenty-five years, the conference remains in the capable hands of Dawson Moore who continues to keep it running smoothly and somehow makes it all look so easy.

As he said recently, “My job is the greatest privilege of my life.”

As I am sure all of us attendees can say: The pleasure is all ours, Dawson. Thanks for the memories!

 

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