World-Premiere of FRANKLIN Opens Nov. 30 at Perseverance Theatre

World-Premiere of FRANKLIN Opens Nov. 30 at Perseverance Theatre

A scientist and a songwriter hunt for answers in Franklin, a world-premiere play by Samantha Noble, launching Nov. 30-Dec. 16 at Perseverance Theatre, Alaska's professional regional theatre company. The production, directed by Hannah Wolf (Juneau bred, a 2018 O'Neill Center National Directing Fellow), features original music by Juneau-based indie composer Marian Call.

Anchored in two eras on the same unforgiving Arctic seas, Franklin centers on two determined women forced to share a cabin aboard a modern-day research vessel. Caught bridging the gap between fact and story, art and science, the analytical Caroline and the intuitive Kira find themselves as trapped as the icebound crew of the 1840s expedition to find the Northwest Passage. Echoes from Franklin's doomed journey lead the women through layers of history towards the lost ships, revealing that the truth can only be found when we listen to all sides of the story.

The cast of Franklin includes Victoria Bundonis (last seen on the Perseverance stage as Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd); Michaela Escarcega (Azteca), Travis Morris, Zebadiah Bodine, Connor Chaney, and Skyler Ray-Benson Davis. The creative team includes E.B. Brooks (costumes), Art Rotch (scenic design), Mike Inwood (lighting), and Lucy Peckham (sound).

Escarcega, a New York-based actor/director making her Perseverance Theatre debut as Kira, appreciates the complexity of the characters Noble has created: as Franklin unfolds, the audience learns that everyone on board harbors secrets and conflicts of their own, mysteries beyond even the fathoms-deep wrecks of Terror and Erebus (both recently recovered in real life). The songwriter Kira, for instance-joining Caroline's mission on a grant-funded residency-is sometimes torn between honoring her indigenous roots, expressing her own creativity, and simply staying afloat as an artist.

"I can identify with that," admits Escarcega. "I'm 25, which I guess means I'm going through a quarter-life crisis-and so is my character... Alaska is really a beautiful breathing space for me to be having my identity crisis through my work."

Kidding aside, the actor says it's a privilege to bring Noble's fascinating play to life on the Perseverance stage, with director Hannah Wolf at the helm: "I love Hannah's passion for new work."

A Boston-based writer and playwright, Samantha Noble developed Franklin through the Kennedy Center and National New Play Network's MFA Playwrights' Workshop. Franklin later received a workshop production as part of Boston Playwright's Theatre's 2016-2017 season-but this Juneau staging represents the play's official debut. The production will travel to Anchorage after the holidays and perform at the Alaska Center for Performing Arts, Jan. 11-20.

Franklin continues Perseverance's 40th anniversary season, which opened this fall with Thornton Wilder's iconic play Our Town (running in Anchorage through Nov. 25), and will feature another world premiere, Whale Song, by Cathy Tagnak Rexford (Inupiaq); the musical Guys and Dolls, by Frank Loesser, Joe Swerling and Abe Burrows; and Steve Martin's bawdy comedy The Underpants. In addition, Anchorage audiences will enjoy A Christmas CarolDec. 14-29, and several smaller Alaska communities will play host to Perseverance's acclaimed touring production of The Winter Bear, by Anne Hanley. See below for the Juneau and Anchorage main stage season dates, and please refer to our website, www.ptalaska.org, for show descriptions, ticket prices, and other details.

Subscriptions for both cities' season remaining lineups are still available at www.ptalaska.org or by calling 907-463-TIXS (8497). For single tickets in Anchorage, please visit www.Centertix.com or call 907-263-ARTS (2787).

Photo: Kira (Micheala Escarcega, left) and Caroline (Victoria Bundonis, member, Actors' Equity Association) are mismatched cabin-mates on a research vessel, both searching for the truth, in Franklin.

Rehearsal photo by Julie York Coppens.




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