Letter from Board President
(From December, 2013)
Dear friend of FST:
Happy Holidays! It’s been a year of big changes at Fairbanks Shakespeare Theatre, and we’re taking this opportunity to tell you about some of them, as well as to thank you for your support of FST. We’ve always relied on a dedicated team of volunteer cast and crew members, and an equally dedicated corps of patrons, people who make it possible for quality classic theater to happen in this far corner of the country. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Here are some of the great projects you supported this year, and more that we hope you’ll enjoy in the coming year.
Lear Khehkwaii, directed by Tom Robenolt and translated into the Gwich’in language by teams led by lead performer Allan Hayton, was a tremendous success, both in its Fairbanks run and in the many sites to which it traveled all across the state. It was made possible by a Shakespeare for a New Generation grant, part of the Shakespeare in American Communities program of the National Endowment for the Arts in cooperation with Arts Midwest, our second NEA grant in three years and third in our history. Many of you stepped up to help us make the required $25,000 match for that grant, along with assistance from the Language of the Americas’ Language Preservation Grant and Fort Yukon School District’s support in receiving funding by Rasmuson Foundation through the Harper Arts Touring Fund administered under contract by the Alaska State Council on the Arts. Lear Khehkwaii was a perfect example of how we plan to continue to fulfill our twin missions of quality productions and theater education, as the tour to more than a dozen towns and villages was accompanied by school drama workshops. Quality theater and education were also combined in our spring break and summer drama camps, the Fledglings and Groundlings, which once again produced full shows featuring dozens of local kids.
This year we performed Romeo and Juliet outdoors at Jack Townshend Point on the UAF campus, the first time we’d ever done that play as our featured summer show. Next summer we will be performing As You Like It on campus, and we’re very pleased that Tom Robenolt will be returning from Perseverance Theater in Juneau to direct this production. Our annual Poe-themed Halloween show Sleepless Night continues to build momentum, in terms both of production values and audience. The fall show was Verdi and the Bard, a spectacular collaboration with Opera Fairbanks, UAF Opera Workshop, the UAF Theater Department, and the Choir of the North.
One of our biggest changes this year is that Bard-a-thon is moving from February to April. We’re going to hold it on the week of Shakespeare’s birthday, which appears to be a better time for high school teachers to work it into their curricula, as well as having better weather (we hope!). This is the 15th annual Bard-a-thon, and it’s going to be the biggest and best ever.
It was a sad day when we moved out of the Empress Theater. So many good memories, a wonderful run of shows, great actors and directors and musicians and crew members. But as we take this year to focus our efforts on long-term development and sustainability, as well as pursuing more excellent collaborations with other Fairbanks performance groups, we have the opportunity to think hard about the future, to plan for the long-term health of FST, including finding a permanent home. Like many growing families, we would like to move from renting to owning, and this year we will be planning (and fundraising) toward making that happen. If you have ideas, we’d love to hear from you.
And, of course, if you would like to make an end-of-the-year contribution toward our goal of greater sustainability, by becoming (or continuing as) a Friend of FST, we would very much appreciate your generosity. It’s easy to give, either donate online (click here to donate) or send a check to our mailing address: PO Box 73447, Fairbanks AK 99707.
Quiet on the cusp of the winter solstice, we remain deeply embedded in the healthy soil of the Fairbanks community, which has nourished us for more than twenty-one years. I hope you’ll continue the growth with us over the next twenty-one, and, as Sebastian says in Twelfth Night, “I can no other answer make but thanks, / And thanks, and ever thanks.”
President, Board of Directors
Fairbanks Shakespeare Theatre