“It is time to heal this wound … and others.” - Fred John, Chief of Mentasta Ahtna, son of Katie John
"One of the most powerful pieces of locally written theater ever produced here." - Mike Dunham, Arts Editor, Anchorage Daily News, March 2013
This Kickstarter campaign is raising money for Assimilation: Alaska Tour 2015, and is the general public portion of the fundraising campaign. Assimilation, the groundbreaking and critically acclaimed play by world-renowned Alaska Native storyteller Jack Dalton, will travel in a touring production to over 8 communities throughout Alaska and and possibly Montana and Utah in October and November of 2015.
In each host community, performances of the play will be accompanied by difficult community dialogues, school outreach and curriculum materials, testimonials and ceremony, with the goal of establishing a multi-generational process for healing our cultures from one of the darkest chapters in Alaska’s history: Alaska Native Boarding Schools.
Logistics of the touring theatrical production are deliberately minimal: a cast of five actors and the playwright; easily transported scenery, costumes and props. Costs associated with each community residency are limited to transportation of personnel and materials, accommodations and per diem (or hosted home stays), and reasonable performer fees and playwright royalty.
“It is by far the most difficult play I have ever sat through — I hope I never have to see it again — but everyone should see it. That’s why I want to act in it.” - Jeff Aldrich, actor, Paul in 2013 production
Jack Dalton’s play, Assimilation, received its world premiere at Cyrano’s Off-Center Playhouse (Anchorage, AK) in November, 2010, with 12 sold-out performances. Mike Dunham, Arts Editor for the Anchorage Daily News named the production a Best Cultural Event of 2010, and has called the play “One of the most powerful pieces of locally written theater ever produced here.” (March 2013) A new production was mounted for Out North Art House (Anchorage, AK) in March 2013, with eight performances, an all-new cast and revised script. Assimilation was also selected for Global Voices: Spring Staged Readings at Emory University, February 2015. In consultation with dramaturg Michael Evenden (Emory University), Jack has created a new revision for Assimilation: Alaska Tour 2015.
“Assimilation - A history lesson you will never forget.”
It is a dark time. Western civilization has collapsed. The indigenous people of North and South America are now in control of the hemisphere. “Whites” now live in abject poverty. “Whites” are nearly impossible to help. “Whites” are too corrupt. “White” are too primitive. “Whites” are godless. “Whites” are savages. “Whites” are the problem. “Whites” must become assimilated ... or “Whites” will be eradicated.
In a village on the Bering Sea Coast of the Inuit Province of Alaska, three White boys are wards of the Paimiut Boarding School. They are beaten. They are imprisoned. They are dehumanized. “Our job is to make these Whites as little problem as possible,” states Elder, the school’s headmistress. “They must become assimilated. It is for their own good.”
Assimilation — a dystopian look at Alaska’s boarding school history, but with the roles reversed: Natives running the boarding school, Whites as the students.
ELDER (played by real Cup'ik elder, dancer and survivor of the boarding school system, Louise Leonard, from the village of Chevak), has a grip on the boarding school, wielding power and a whip, to do whatever is necessary to assimilate Whites that will submit, and “clean up” those she believes cannot assimilate.
TEACHER (played by Yup'ik dancer Marian Wassillie, from the village of Newhalen), young and idealistic, a “globalist”, is new to the school, struggling to fulfill a mission she believes in, while getting to know the White boys as human beings, and beginning to question the purpose of the school.
MICHAEL (played by Theatre Emory grad Travis Draper), who has been at the school longer than any other White boy, struggles desperately with the Yup’ik language, but, as a jock, understands the rules of the Yup’ik “sport”, or hunting, and, while accepted by the village, is despised by Elder.
PAUL (played by local slam poet Jacob Holley-Kline, who played Adam in 2013), son of the most powerful White energy company owner in the Arctic, is rebellious, strongly believing in the “White” concepts of capitalism and “business”, will do anything to continue his beliefs in “White superiority”.
And ADAM (played by 17-year-old actor Tendal Mann, from Georgia), is quiet, introspective, saved by the Athabaskan Chief of Tikahtnu (Anchorage, or “Ankritz”), understands “the way of the Human Being”, thanks to his “Eirish” mother’s stories and teaching, desires only to assimilate and be of use to his adoptive “village”.
Everyone has something big to lose, including their lives. Who will survive this situation? This is the fundamental question of the play.
Tour tour is scheduled from October 9, 2015, with our first performance at UAS in Juneau, and will end December 6, 2015.
As of September 15, 2015, the tour is visiting the communities of Juneau, Anchorage, Fairbanks, Homer, Seldovia and Soldotna, Alaska. Plans are being finalized with the community of Barrow. And funding sources are being sought after to finalize plans to visit Bethel, Nome, Unalakleet and Valdez (Perhaps you'd like to Sponsor a Community?). Negotiations are also taking place with communities in Montana and Utah to host the play. Several festivals in Canada and Perseverance Theatre are looking to have productions of Assimilation, but perhaps with different casts, in Spring 2016.
NOTE: This video, recorded at Emory University in February 2015, mentions the Governor of Alaska possibly funding a four year tour. Rock-bottom oil prices and budget woes quashed that idea, which is part of the reason this Kickstarter campaign is so vital.
The $15,000 goal of this Kickstarter campaign is the minimum supplement needed to ensure success of the tour. Each community is asked to contribute $2,500, plus travel, lodging and per diem (which can be as much as $5,000, depending on the community). Thus, host communities have already contributed over $30,000 in funds and in-kind donations.
The $15,000 raised in this campaign will go directly to the actors to ensure they will be well paid for their investment of hundreds of hours of time over a two-and-a-half month commitment to make this tour possible. This is the minimum required to honor the time and effort these actors will give to this project. Any funds raised above $15,000 would help communities still looking for funding meet their goals. Surpluses of helping communities would go to the actors, a minimum of $5,000 per actor. If there is enough surplus, Jack will pay himself for organizing the tour, writing the play, and his healing work in the communities.
Risks and challenges
Obviously, there are many risks and challenges to a project like this.
If this campaign does not work, the tour will still happen. If communities can raise the money to bring us there, the actors are already committed to the timeline and can meet all obligations thus far arranged.
This campaign simply ensures adequate honoring of the actors commitments already made. Surplus simply honors them more and helps Jack get some honor. If Jack must do this for free, he will. He will pay his actors before he pays himself.
Travel to rural Alaska is always a risk and challenge. Weather delays may mean missed performances, or missed days of work for actors living in Anchorage. Luckily, Alaskans understand this and we'll roll with any punches nature gives us. At worst, nature will do something interesting, and extra expenses will be covered somehow. There are emergency contingencies in place. One just hopes they are not necessary. LOL
Regarding fulfillment of incentive products, no risks or challenges are expected, aside from Jack's incapacitation, which plenty of wood is being knocked on to prevent. LOL Kuspuks and paintings will be made, come what may! LOL
In short, the tour happens whether this campaign is successful or not, but as successful campaign will truly honor the actors, who have already pledged so much. A surplus simply honors them more and helps communities that may not have the means on their own to bring Assimilation to their people.
The biggest risk is you not contributing. Your pledge counts!
Quyana. Thank you for supporting the Assimilation Tour 2015.
- (20 days)