New show celebrating statehood hits the stage

When Alaska was on the eve of turning 50, the Alaska Humanities forum created a grant that would fund many projects to celebrate statehood. One of these projects was the commissioning of five new plays to be written about Alaska and life in the Last Frontier.
“Time Immemorial,” the newest play at Cyrano’s Off-Center Playhouse, is one of the results of this project.
Jack Dalton and Allison Warden were commissioned to write a play about the Alaska Native perspective of statehood. What resulted were ten scenes that cover every topic from the very beginning of time and space to modern issues that many struggle with in Alaska.
“When we were first asked to write about statehood, we thought that Native Alaskans have been here since time immemorial, you know, for thousands of years. [Time Immemorial] is a phrase to describe how long the native peoples [of Alaska] have been on the land. You know, they say “since time immemorial,” so in essence since time began,” said Warden who co-wrote the play and is also acting in it.
The first thing noticed about the set of “Time Immemorial,” is that it is very Alaskan. One end of the set is decorated like a glacier adrift at sea while the middle represents a cabin in the woods. The far end of the set shows a house with the city of Anchorage outside the window.
The play focuses specifically on the Inupiat perspective of Alaska with things like hunting, the first contact with Europeans and current social problems. Although it may sound droll, the play actually has a lot of life and colorful moments to it thanks to the lively spirit put in by Dalton and the creative mind of Warden.
The first scene of the play starts with the creation of the Planet Earth and the heavens above. From there, it evolves through time and its major events, taking significant pieces and showing the evolution of culture in Alaska and how it has been affected by many individuals.
“As we were talking about [the individuals of Alaskan history], we realized that you do two things with people in history: you either turn them into a villain or idolize them. It’s a matter of seeing that these were real human beings. that lived in these real circumstances that had to make decisions. They probably did not even realize that these decisions would have far-reaching effects into the future,” Dalton said, discussing how the play looked at people as people, not as good or bad figures.
The two writers said the play was mostly about forgiveness, that it was trying to show that yes, some strange and terrible things have happened in the past, but Alaska culture has evolved around that and worked with it to survive.
Only a handful of people consist of the work effort on the play (including technicians and people behind the scenes), so the show runs smoothly and effortlessly, dotted with humor and serious moments. Warden asked Director Princess Lucaj to help with the play by Warden. The hard work of three people has turned the acting in this show into something vibrant and lively.
“Time Immemorial” is a somewhat educational play about Alaska, and it is very well done. Sadly, it is not entirely worth $17.50 for the poor student, so making it over to the free showing on April 9 would be an excellent way to spend a Thursday night. For those who have cash and perhaps some time to enjoy a glass of wine and a decent play, it will be running every weekend for a month. Its collaborative effort may not be for everyone, but anyone looking for an original Alaska play, this one is a winner.