It’s time to give your television a break.
Live theater is returning to Juneau, and it’s coming free to an outdoor, neighborhood setting near you. Think “Macbeth” at the Treadwell Mine office building and family-friendly cabaret at Twin Lakes Park.
Theater Alaska, a local group founded in 2020, hosts its first festival, including “Macbeth,” family-friendly cabaret-style shows, readings, and classes from May 11 to 30.
All “Macbeth” performances and the Neighborhood Cabaret are free, take place outside and aim to bring vibrant theatrical events directly to community spaces. Readings are free but require registration, and classes require registration and a fee.
Flordelino Lagundino, the group’s producing artistic director, advises arriving early, packing a picnic and bringing chairs. Productions will happen, rain or shine.
“It’s all free. Just show up early. We’re not holding any reservations. Part of Theater Alaska is making it accessible to people,” Lagundino said. “We wanted to make a community event. We really want this to be a joyful experience and an opportunity for us to get back together again. We want to be in people’s neighborhoods and bring song and joy to people where they live,” he said.
Roots of the festival
The idea for the festival was born during COVID lockdown last summer when Flordelino and fellow founders started thinking about the more significant questions of life.
“During the pandemic, people thought a lot about what we were doing with their lives. What is important to us? As theatre people, we’ve realized how much of our relationships are about people coming together to share a story and to be together,” he said.
Thinking about other theater companies, such as “10,000 Things” in Minneapolis, Lagundino sensed an opportunity to bring theater to different community centers in Juneau. He said the group looked for specific locations where theater may not be as easily accessible, like assisted living facilities.
With the decision to proceed, the group’s thoughts turned to safety.
“During COVID is was so difficult to do any artistic work. We really wanted to do it outside to keep audiences safe,” Lagundino said.
Inspiration came in the form of Shakespeare and the festivals that Lagundino and other group members had participated in the past.
“A lot of us have done Shakespeare in the past and wanted to do a universal story that really resonates,” he said.
Lagundino said that the essential questions at the heart of “Macbeth” seemed particularly relevant today.
“What is a leader’s responsibility to the nation and themselves as humans? Lots about the world resonated with Macbeth. The language is amazing. The poetry and the depths of humanity,” he said.
Cast member Natalia Spengler, who plays Lady Macbeth, agreed.
“Shakespeare will always be relevant because he wrote such strong, unique, human characters. ‘Macbeth’ is no exception. And then, of course, the themes of power, leadership, ambition, loyalty, tyranny, etc., are universal — they’re just as relevant to a modern audience as they were in Shakespeare’s time,” Spengler said in an email.
Beyond the safety of an outdoor venue, Spengler said the locations add an element that makes Shakespeare an excellent choice for the festival.
“I think Shakespeare works particularly well outdoors because his plays are so large in scope, and most have many outdoor scenes. For example, it’s really neat to be talking about a forest and be physically in the middle of one,” she said.
Another perk of performing outside is that performers are free not to wear masks.
“Since the company is fully vaccinated and we’re working outdoors, we will be unmasked during performances. It is amazing how much we used to take for granted during rehearsals, and how much now feels like a privilege,” Spengler said.
• Contact reporter Dana Zigmund at email@example.com or 907-308-4891.
Know & Go
Here’s a complete list of the festival’s events.
Macbeth by William Shakespeare – May 11-23
Thursday, May 13, 1:30 p.m. – Thunder Mountain High School
Friday, May 14, 7 p.m. – Treadwell Mine Office Building
Saturday, May 15, 7 p.m. – Treadwell Mine Office Building
Sunday, May 16, 3 p.m. – Treadwell Mine Office Building
Thursday, May 20, 7 p.m. – Mayor Bill Overstreet Park
Friday, May 21, 7 p.m. – Capital School Park
Saturday, May 22, 7 p.m. – Capital School Park
Sunday, May 23, 7 p.m. – Cope Park
The Neighborhood Cabaret – May 26-30
Each show will feature different performers.
Wednesday, May 26, 7 p.m. – Twin Lakes Park
Thursday, May 27, 7 p.m. – St. Vincent de Paul
Friday, May 28, 7 p.m. – Channel View Trailer Park
Saturday, May 29, 2:30 p.m. – Pioneer Home
Saturday, May 29, 7 p.m.- Marine Park
Sunday, May 30, 3 p.m.- Savikko Park Shelter #1 at Sandy Beach
Readings are limited to 15 audience members. To register, email Jenny Lagundino at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sisters of the White Chapel: A short but true story by Annie Bartholomew
Monday, May 17, 6 p.m. – Resurrection Lutheran Church
Once Upon a Tide by Frank Kaash Katasse
Monday, May 24, 6 p.m. – Resurrection Lutheran Church
Classes are limited to 10 people and cost $25. To register or for more information, email Jenny Lagundino at email@example.com.
Introduction to Alexander Technique
May 19 from 6 to 9 p.m.
Instructor: Tommy Schoffler
Unleashing your Laughter-The Red Nose
May 22 from 1 to 4 p.m.
Instructor: Roblin Gray Davis
Acting through Song
May 22 from 1 to 4 p.m.
Instructor: Vishal Vaidya