For one night only, ALAXSXA | ALASKA, an original theater production, is performing in Bethel this evening, Thursday, September 7. Both words of the title are names for our vast state. Alaxsxa is the Unangax indigenous word that means "mainland"; Alaska is the Russian interpretation of that word. Using video, puppetry, oral history, and Yup’ik dancing, the show explores cross-cultural encounters shaping the state’s history and the personal stories of its actors. Some of those stories come from actor Gary Beaver from the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta village of Kasigluk.
Well, I know there will be positive and negative, and sometimes it hits me; I get hurt. But then I know I have to do this to make myself stronger, and hoping and believing and trusting that I help someone out there.
Hi, I’m Gary Beaver and I’m a performer in the show.
Like, for example, the dry village in which most of the villages bring in alcohol, which I have still problem with, but after this show started, or even before it kinda started, through my own personal problems, it’s been helping me to stay away from it. And I’m trying so hard right now, but all of us have friends, mostly villagers, the peer pressure that is strong, and I too get that from back home, but then when I’m with the people I’m working with, I'm really good and I don’t use it. It makes me think I’m better without it.
I also do Eskimo dancing and the singing.
One of the elders, Kalila Slim, rest in peace, he’s the one who encouraged me. He yelled at me in front of the class, but I knew while he was yelling at me because he knew I had potential for it. And after all our elders passed away, our Eskimo dancing was going down, dying, and then I asked Levi Hoover, the local teacher, if he had tapes for that because I knew he did. And that’s what he did. He gave me the whole box of cassette tapes and told me, 'Go. Don’t come back until you learn.' So that’s what I did. I went home. Rewind, play, rewind, play.
This show is making my life better by looking at the people I’m working with. They are showing me love.
Mostly I look at myself in the worst way, but I am climbing that mountain right now because of this show.
ALAXSXA | ALASKA begins at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday in the Gladys Jung Elementary School Gym. Tickets are limited and can be reserved by calling 907-545-3961. The show will then head to Kasigluk and perform Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Akula Elitnaurvik School Gym. The tour will continue through Alaska before heading to an off-Broadway stage in New York.
Alaxsxa Alaska Tour Dates:
University of Alaska Anchorage
Aug. 31 - Sept. 3
Gladys Jung Elementary School Gym, Bethel
Sept. 7, 6:30 p.m.
Akula Elitnaurvik School Gym, Kasigluk
Sept. 9, 7:30 p.m.
Nome Elementary School Gym
Sept. 12, 7 p.m.
Bunnell Street Arts Center, Homer
Sept. 15, 7 p.m.; Sept. 16, 7 p.m.; Sept. 17, 3 p.m.
New York Premiere
La MaMa ETC
Oct. 12 - 29