Once you have soared above the clouds in a lawn chair, what do you do for an encore — and with the rest of your life? The play being staged at Pier One Theatre last weekend and next, explores a man’s choices 16 years after his big adventure.
“UP,” written by Bridget Carpenter, is loosely based on a real man’s experience. In 1982, Larry Walters (“the lawn chair guy”) tied 42 helium-filled weather balloons to his lawn chair in San Pedro, Calif. His backyard launch carried him 15,000 feet aloft for four hours, over the controlled airspace of Los Angeles International Airport, causing some confusion and concerns for commercial jet pilots and air traffic controllers.
Celebrated director, choreographer and curator Emily Johnson (Native Alaskan Yup’ik) presents NIICUGNI (Yup’ik for listen, pay attention, pronounced nee-CHOOG-nee) a new dance/music/art performance, enhanced by hanging fish-skin sculptures at Pier One Theatre this weekend.
“The fish-skin sculptures are an integral part of a memorable theatrical journey fusing traditional Yup’ik music and dance with contemporary performance. The effect is one of taking the audience out of the theater and into nature, to NIICUGNI (listen) to our connection with the Earth and our ancestors.” a reviewer wrote. “Johnson has almost ethereal ability to weave elements of theater, dance and art into a uniquely affecting experience. Her richly detailed dance numbers are full of surprises.”
A major fundraiser for the Homer High School Drama, Debate and Forensics team comes as an evening of entertainment this weekend and a rare chance to see the team in action.
It’s a time when students challenge themselves in acting fetes. Jonas Noomah, for example, is doing a Duo Interpretation with Evan Boyer, titled “Excerpt’s from Monty Python’s Flying Circus.” In this case, the duo interpretation involves two people who play multiple characters and cannot touch or look at each other.
Sound like a challenge?
Student Adi Davis will be doing a Dramatic Interpretation of an excerpt from World War Z by Max Brooks. The story revolves around a female former air force pilot who is stranded in enemy territory.
Martty Zeller is teaching improvisational acting at the Art Barn every Thursday through October, daytimes for Flex School students and evenings, 5:30 to 7 p.m. for other students.
The Flex students plan to stage an improv play at the Art Barn after the training is completed.
The six classes started Sept. 13. They introduce, explore and expand the skills of improvisational acting “Using play, humor, exercises and games, participants are learning the elements of long and short form improvisational theater and comedy including creativity, spontaneity, listening, trust and character/story building. In addition to real life applications we will also work on performance improvisation,” Zeller said.
Pier One’s final show of the season is a rock musical, “Next to Normal” by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey, directed by Marc Oliver.
With a cast of only six, the show follows the treatment of a mother’s severe case of bipolar disorder, ranging from drug regimens to hypnosis to electro shock therapy, documenting the impact her illness and treatment has on her family, according director Marc Oliver.
The play features Pier One regulars Emerson Quarton, Marc Oliver, Jacob Mayforth and Maura Gibson. Jessica Williams debuts in the title role. Kevin Ray Johnson, a professional actor from the East Coast is flying up to Alaska after finishing a repertory production of this show in Pennsylvania to perform here.
Pier One Theatre is featuring another classic play for the first two weekends in August, “Euridice” drawn from Greek mythology.
Directors are using the version of the ancient myth created by playwright Sarah Ruhl.
Ruhl “re-imagines the classic story of Eurydice and Orpheus from the heroine’s point of view” in an evocative, poetic, fluid telling of the Greek tale of the lovers separated by death, relayed Barb Petersen in an email.
Watercolorist Byron Birdsall, one of Alaska’s most renowned artists, is the next guest in the Art Shop Gallery’s Summer Artist Series. He’ll be on hand to greet guests Saturday, July 14 from 1-6 p.m.
Birdsall’s new works include several of the Homer Spit, as well as brilliant landscapes and sea scenes of fishing boats and showcase birds that inhabit Gull Island and Kachemak Bay, such as eagles, puffins and cormorants. Florals, still-lifes and period pieces, nostalgic renderings of historic Alaska scenes, complete the show.
A prolific and popular artist, Birdsall releases several limited edition prints every year. He and his family reside in Anchorage and travel extensively around Alaska and around the world, generating inspiration for new artworks.
Wrapping up the second Youth Theatre Skills Camp of the summer, nine performers ranging in age from 10-14, staged a series of scenes from various shows last weekend.
“Channel Surfing” showcased the newly trained actors, who learned from camp directors Casey Parrett and Alder Fletcher. Owen Duffy assisted in directing the show.
The final Pier One youth camp of the summer will be a production camp in August focusing on the play “Eurydice.”
There will be no performance at Pier One this weekend, due to the death of Lance Petersen’s mother, Jean McMaster.
Homer’s outstanding community theater on the Spit, Pier One, has managed to outdo itself again as it concluded two weekends of what was billed as “light” comedy; four plays by three Alaskan playwrights and one from Syracuse, NY.
Director Nancy Chastain, with the assistance of Ken Landfield, perfectly aligned the plays for an evening of fun.
Valdez creator Dawson Moore wrote the first play of the evening, “Alyson & the Great Bagel Mistake.” Lead actor Peter Sheppard plays lovesick Austin Johnson who is afraid to approach Alyson, played by Maria Fourier. His friends and former lovers, Amber (Amy Christianson,) Shannon (Lauren Cashman,) Dylan (Jody Gaines) and Barry (Cody Gaines), hassle and goad him on until he finally makes his move.
Laughter could be heard streaming from Pier One Theatre during “Raven’s Radio Hour,” a play by Jack Dalton and Ed Bourgeois, performed Friday, Saturday and Sunday on the Homer Spit.
Based on the concept of Prairie Home Companion, the humorous storytelling is a combination of Native American legends, stories and present day cultural occurrences such as the bossy Auntie tradition. There was even a joke on the Homer Spit Rats.