Edward Teach, better known to most as Blackbeard, died in battle in the waters off North Carolina more than 300 years ago. And the year 2216 won’t be for a little while yet. But the performers of the Summer Theater Arts Rendezvous (STAR), Perseverance Theatre’s summer youth acting program, will bring them both to you this weekend.
“They’re both sort of epic adventure stories,” said Julie York Coppens, the director of STAR. “That was sort of our theme this year.”
Bloody Blackbeard, a story about the famous 18th century pirate, is an original play written by Preston Lane and with music composed by Laurelyn Dossett, who traveled to Juneau herself for the premiere of the show to assist with its production.
The other play, Pericles 2216: The Intergalactic Adventures of the Prince of Tyre, is an adaptation of a Shakespeare play, telling the story of a hero of the golden age of Greece, set now in a spacefaring future.
“We want to take our kids and our audience on a really amazing adventure through time, through space, through history,” Coppens said.
The STAR program, which is a three-week program for kids who have an interest in acting in theater or working in the many roles involved in putting on a production, has been happening every summer for years at the Perseverance Theatre in Douglas. The plays are the culminating spectacle of the camp, where the students put on both plays in one night.
“While we’re putting on awesome shows, to me, it’s more about the kids experience, and the journey that they go on,” Coppens said. “A lot of them maybe have never done theater before, maybe had just been in a school play, to getting used to professional level training and instruction. We’ve been doing vocal work, physical work, we follow a really tough schedule.”
Students with STAR also study prop and stage building. Other electives in the three-week program included learning some sign language from a local teacher, and a workshop in songwriting and composing for theater from Dossett.
“It’s fun for me because I love this show and I get to work with them and see their enthusiasm and it reminds me what I loved about it,” Dossett said. The North Carolina singer-songwriter, who’s composed music for seven plays, will be in town this weekend performing and giving a songwriting workshop.
“Everybody’s on stage most of the time,” Coppens said, referring to the play’s structure as ensemble shows, where everyone plays a role. “Nobody’s a tree,” she laughed. “We try to set up every kid up for success with the STAR Program, according to Coppens, however they want to find it.
Perseverance Theatre will host one more week of half-day STAR camps, including a tech theater boot camp for teenagers, from July 22-26.
“We hope that some of the kids come to the show and think, oh man, I want to do that,” Coppens said.
“These kinds of programs really change kids’ lives. They show them they have power, they have agency, and they can make amazing things happen,” said Coppens.
After that, the theater will begin ramping up production for the 41st acting season with their September production and world premiere of Devilfish, a story based on a prehistoric Southeast Alaska, telling an origin myth of life and its balance with the ocean.
KNOW & GO
Both Blackbeard and Pericles will play at the Perseverance Theatre in Douglas on Friday, July 19, at 7 p.m. Blackbeard will also play at 4 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. and 7 p.m Sunday. Pericles will play at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday.
• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 523-2228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.