Courtesy of Theater Alaska
Longtime Juneau musician Rob Cohen performs at an outdoor cabaret show during the Alaska Theater Festival in 2022. This year’s festival will begin with a series of Neighborhood Cabaret shows at various locations throughout Juneau between June 28 and July 2.

Courtesy of Theater Alaska Longtime Juneau musician Rob Cohen performs at an outdoor cabaret show during the Alaska Theater Festival in 2022. This year’s festival will begin with a series of Neighborhood Cabaret shows at various locations throughout Juneau between June 28 and July 2.

Neighborhood watch

Fourth annual Alaska Theater Festival to stage outdoor productions throughout Juneau this summer.

When picking venues for a theater festival, generally a shelter for people experiencing homelessness isn’t among the first that come to mind in Juneau.

But that’s where this year’s Alaska Theater Festival will show up early during its fourth season that starts Wednesday with a series of “Neighborhood Cabaret” performances. After opening at St. Vincent de Paul’s housing and community complex on Wednesday evening, the production will move a block down Teal Street the following evening to the Glory Hall shelter.

“We want to make it accessible to everyone in the community so that’s the biggest thing,” said Flordelino Lagundino, producing artistic director for Theater Alaska, which hosts the festival each year. “The biggest part is to bring it to individuals who may not necessarily get to have performances or go to performances.”

Additional shows, featuring music by about 10 local musicians performing individually and in collaboration, are scheduled during the following three days at parks in the Mendenhall Valley, downtown and Douglas.

The festival is also scheduled to perform William Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” at various locations between July 19-30 and a “Climate Fair for a Cool Planet” show by various artists at Mayor Bill Overstreet Park on Aug. 5. The plan is to stage all of the shows outdoors — audience members are urged to bring their own seating — but with large tents available for rainy weather.

“It’s a much more relaxed atmosphere, but the center of it is bringing professional theater and professional artists closer to the community,” Lagundino said.

A total of 2,259 people attended the festival’s shows last year, according to organizers.

The production of “Twelfth Night” continues the festival’s tradition of featuring Shakespeare, with shows generally trimmed to last about 90 minutes, Lagundino said. This year’s staging will feature modern dress and “is notable for having a lot of music” that also will have post-17th century flourishes.

“We’re going to be playing guitar, probably harmonica, a lot of ukuleles — everyone just having fun with it,” he said.

Half of the 10 stagings of “Twelfth Night” will be at the ruins of the Treadwell Mine Office Building, which allows the producers and performers to get creative with the “set” elements of man and nature, Lagundino said.

“During the pandemic it was really impossible to be inside,” he said. “A lot of us have been in outdoor Shakespeare productions across the country. Now we’re just kind of in the role of being outside and enjoying it.”

The “Climate Fair for a Cool Planet” show is a continuation of a collaboration with 350Juneau, a climate change awareness advocacy group. The two-hour event will feature live theater, dance and music — which Lagundino said continues to offer him new information about climate impacts despite his already repeated projects with the group.

“350Juneau is wonderful in bringing in new facts,” he said. “Every year they’re able to add more information, add more details to the things that we learn. We’re still working on it and defining what those things are going to be.”

Similarly, while many Juneau residents have likely been exposed to plenty of news reports and other information about climate change, Lagundino said the theater festival’s performance can convey such messages in a more meaningful way.

“It’s really about the emotional response that we have to music,” he said. “The emotional response we have to theater and being able to hear a play or the language, and think about the world.”

The Alaska Theater Festival is supported in part by the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council and the City and Borough of Juneau.

• Contact Mark Sabbatini at mark.sabbatini@juneauempire.com or (907) 957-2306.

Know & Go

What: Neighborhood Cabaret

Where/when: Various venues in Juneau as follows:

• June 28: 6 p.m., St. Vincent de Paul, 8617 Teal St.

• June 29: 7 p.m., the Glory Hall, 8715 Teal St.

• June 30: 6:30 p.m., Riverside Rotary Park Shelter, 3300 Riverside Drive

• July 1: 6:30 p.m., Marine Park Pavilion

• July 2: 3 p.m., Savikko Shelter #1, 101 Savikko Road

•••••

What: “Twelfth Night”

Where/when: Various venues in Juneau as follows:

• July 19-22: 7 p.m., Treadwell Mine Office Building

• July 23: 3 p.m., Treadwell Mine Office Building

• July 26: 7 p.m., Mendenhall Valley Public Library, 3025 Diamond Park Loop

• July 27: 7 p.m., Riverside Rotary Park, 3300 Riverside Drive

• July 28: 7 p.m., Heritage Plaza at Sealaska Heritage Institute, 105 S. Seward St.

• July 29: 7 p.m., Jensen-Olsen Arboretum, 23035 Glacier Hwy.

• July 30: 3 p.m., Noyes Pavilion at the University of Alaska Southeast, 11220 Glacier Hwy.

•••••

What: Climate Fair for a Cool Planet

Where/when: Aug. 5: 3-5 p.m., Mayor Bill Overstreet Park

Tommy Schoffler, left, and Kelsey Riker rehearse the final scene of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at the Treadwell Office Mine on June 7, 2022, as part of last year’s Alaska Theater Festival. This year’s festival is scheduled to feature William Shakespeare’s "Twelfth Night" from July 19-30. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire 
File)

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