Perseverance Theatre’s (PT) mission is to create professional theatre by and for Alaskans. We value community engagement, professional rigor, and regional voice.
The Theatre was founded in 1979 by Molly Smith as a theatre by, for and about Alaskans and today is led by Executive Artistic Director Art Rotch. PT was born in Juneau—the state’s capital and a community of 30,000 that is only accessible by plane or boat. Thirty years later, we’ve grown into the state’s flagship professional theatre, serving nearly 15,000 artists and audiences annually with classical, contemporary, and world premiere productions on our Main and Second stages; education and training programs for youth and adults; statewide and national tours; and outreach collaborations with statewide artistic and social service groups, ranging from Ilisagvik College in Barrow to Juneau’s Native and Filipino Communities. PT is the resident theatre at the University of Alaska Southeast.
We’re a 501(C)(3) organization overseen by a thirteen member board of community members, professionals and artists. Our annual budget is comprised of a diversified funding base including the City of Juneau, the State of Alaska, and the NEA; foundation supporters including Shubert, Andrew W. Mellon, Rasmuson, and the Paul G. Allen Family; national corporations including ExxonMobil and AT&T; as well as the generous support of Juneau businesses and individuals. In 2002, PT was one of just seven theaters awarded a $500,000 endowment challenge grant by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation through their Leading National Theaters Program. In 2006 we completed our endowment campaign in addition to a $1.1 million facility expansion and renovation project.
In 32 seasons under Artistic Directors Molly Smith (now Artistic Director of Arena Stage in Washington, DC), Peter DuBois (now the Associate Producer at New York’s Public Theater), PJ Paparelli (now the Artistic Director of American Theatre Company in Chicago), and Art Rotch, we have premiered over 65 new plays by Alaskan and national playwrights, including most recently The Blue Bear (2011), based on Juneau author Lynn Schooler’s memoir; Battles of Fire and Water (2009), a play by Alaskan Dave Hunsaker exploring the 1802 conflicts between the Russians and the Tlingits; Yeast Nation (the triumph of life), a 2007 musical by Tony-winners Greg Kotis and Mark Hollman; The Long Season (2005), a musical by Chay Yew and Fabian Obispo about Filipino Alaskan cannery workers; and columbinus (2005), a drama exploring school shootings. The latter two received national coverage in American Theater magazine and NPR. The Long Season was subsequently presented at New Jersey’s George Street Playhouse; meanwhile, columbinus was produced off-Broadway in May 2006 at New York Theatre Workshop. Paula Vogel’s 1998 Pulitzer Prize-winning play How I Learned to Drive was also written and developed at PT.
PT was born as a grassroots organization firmly planted in our community and state. We occupy a unique place in the heart of Juneau’s artistic, cultural and social life and we are committed to developing artists, volunteers, audiences and programming reflective of the Alaskan community. We maintain a local resident acting company and training and development opportunities are an essential element of all our artistic operations. We are also committed to engaging artistic work which speaks directly to the Alaskan experience. Moby Dick (2001) was a World Premiere fusion of Melville with the whaling traditions of the Iñupiat Eskimos. Performed by a multi-ethnic cast of Alaskan performers, this production later toured to Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Barrow, the northernmost settlement in North America. Meanwhile, Macbeth (2004) was set in the context of Southeast Alaska’s indigenous Tlingit culture and was performed by an all-Alaska Native cast. This piece later toured the state and, in March 2007, was remounted a third time for performances at the new Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington D.C., in association with the citywide Shakespeare in Washington festival. This strong history of work with the Alaska Native community garnered PT a four-year, $400,000 award from the Wallace Foundation in 2003 to deepen and expand our engagement of Alaska Native artists and audiences.