Perseverance Theatre’s 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. Perseverance was born in Juneau—the state’s capital and a community of 30,000 that is only accessible by plane or boat.
Now into our fourth decade, 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. Perseverance Theatre is the resident theatre at the University of Alaska Southeast. Perseverance recently launched a subscription season in Anchorage.
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 BP Exploration; as well as the generous support of Juneau businesses and individuals. In 2002, Perseverance Theatre was 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 project.
In 33 seasons under Artistic Directors Molly Smith (now Artistic Director of Arena Stage in Washington, DC), Peter DuBois (now the Artistic Director at the Huntington Theatre Company in Boston), 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 recently:
The Blue Bear (2011), based on Juneau author Lynn Schooler’s memoir of the same title;
Battles of Fire and Water (2009), a play by Alaskan Dave Hunsaker exploring the 1802 conflicts between the Russians and the Tlingit;
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. Our Tlingit-inspired Macbeth toured to the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian, and Paula Vogel’s 1998 Pulitzer Prize-winning play How I Learned to Drive was written and developed while the playwright was in residence at Perseverance Theatre.
Perseverance 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. 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. The best of our work ripples nationally, and Perseverance Theatre's symbiotic relationship with the community was reflected in a story on NPR's All Things Considered in March, 2005, where our World Premiere production The Long Season was cited as a prime example of how theaters serve their communities. Reporter Lynn Neary spent a week with us examining Perseverance's connection to Juneau and our committment to creating work that rings with an "Alaskan aesthetic."
Mission & History
Fourth Decade Plan
Willoughby Arts Complex
Board of Directors
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