Recently I had the pleasure of working on a short play called Cedar House with Perseverance Theatre (PT- regionally renowned for some pretty great shows) here in Juneau. If I haven't mentioned it, I have an MFA in set design with a secondary emphasis in lighting design and have worked on several shows with PT like Equus and Much Ado About Nothing. This was my first foray into costume design though, and it was quite a whirlwind.
Ishmael Hope (front) and Frank Katasse (rear) perform in Cedar House.
We only had about three full weeks to get the show up and running, but I think we did pretty well! Anyhow, for this week's Juneau Empire article I interviewed blogger, playwright (and performer/storyteller) Ishmael Hope about his writing process. He is a Native Alaskan- Tlingit. He is from the Raven moeity and his play tells several of his people's stories from a modern sensibility. Check out his blog at alaskanativestoryteller.com and read on to hear directly from him . . .
The Craft of Creating a Play: Cedar House
This summer, Perseverance Theatre tackles a new frontier and a new audience with its show "Cedar House." Geared specifically for an audience of tourists arriving daily into Juneau's capital city, the play brings history, culture and art to life for a quick 35 minutes on the mainstage.
Ishmael Hope both works as playwright and performer while he tells the stories of his people, the Tlingit, and their land, Lingít Aaní. As costume designer for the show, I watched the play develop and unfold. Intrigued by the process of the playwright, I sat down with Hope to learn about his craft, the craft of creating a play.
"All of it really ties into thinking, you know, thinking," he said. "I want to have company with people who take pleasure in thinking, and that's the kind of work I want to produce."
The slow, methodic words of an old soul filter out of Hope's mouth. Somewhat surprisingly he is a youthful 20-something who has written several plays for Perseverance and beyond, reflecting his Native Alaskan heritage.
Hope continues, "The most important for me has nothing to do with 'style' . . . it's really about being comfortable in your own human body, and thinking and allowing things to come to you. And then what you write hopefully has a sense of that."