One more the Bard's words sail across cyberspace. Local volunteers pitch in around the clock whispering, barking, crying and humbling reading WIlliam Shakespeare's peerless pages, reigniting imagination across the ages. 

Get the schedule an video stream here.

If music is the only reward, Fairbanks Shakespeare Volunteers are officially on break. Expect other hiccups as our local players sometimes miss their cues, along with tongue-tied stumbles and bathroom breaks, pardon such pauses and be patient, dear audience. Action, such as there is, will resume.

In keeping with this Far North tradition, Will's readers soldier forward until his cannon is complete. This year that means Jan. 29.

Better yet, head down to the Empress and embrace immortality adding your voice to the joyous flood of words.


"Misalliance" director Rebecca Eddy tells you why you should watch her play.

Ice Art

The 2012 World Ice Art Championships are in the book.  Now is the time to reflect on what has been a challenging year, to say the least. 

With over 40 thousand visitors the event was characterized by Hoa Brickley in one word, "Success." 

Dick Brickley, chairman of the event, said, "We had a really huge break with having good weather allowing us to extend the show for an extra week."  He went on to say that the safety and security staff did an excellent job because there were less accidents and incidents than any prior year.  Considering that the footing is ice and snow there are bound to be slips, trips and falls. Brickley also said, "The electrical people did an exceptional job.  Getting the site ready with all the wiring was a gigantic undertaking for the crew of volunteers."

Arts Index

A drag show called Happily Never After - A Knight with a Twist performed at local dance studio 

Screen_Shot_2012-04-16_at_2.42.34_PMDance Theatre Fairbanks on March 16th and 17th.

Extreme reporters Saryn Walsh and Tuomas Paloniemi got together and reported on this magnificent event.

Ice Art

     Coming from far and near, about 200 international and local ice carvers made the George Horner Ice Art Park their home away from home, during February and March, for the 2012 BP World Ice Art Championships.

     The carvers are provided with a shared-room and breakfast at the Westmark Hotel, lunch and dinner at the park’s dining facility, transportation, massages, and a Chena Hot Springs Resort retreat. The ice park also provides on-site housing for those carvers arriving first in rooms above the dining facility and another building located on the back lot.

     An able seaman with the Alaska Marine Highway System, Kris Wilkin, 45, says he took two weeks off from work to enter the single-block competition. “I personally like to sculpt and do the detailed work,” said Wilkin. “It’s not about winning; it’s about expressing your art to others.”

     Monaco carver, Mario Amegee, gets his experience from his job back home.  He carves ice figures for receptions, birthdays, social events and even sculpts creative ice forms for Prince Phillip’s brunches.

     Amegee says he has been competing in this event for 16 years and likes the realistic category, carving animals and people. Two years ago he carved a 9-meter-tall King Kong. This year his team won second place in the multi-block competition with an abstract carving.

     “The trip to Chena Hot Springs and the massages are the best part,” said Amegee. “It’s also nice to have this place to come into and warm up,” referring to the dining facility. “And the food, well, it’s okay.”

     Steve Dean, originally from Fairbanks and now residing in Malibu, looks forward to the massages for his hands and lower back. “Most people don’t realize how sore your hands get from operating the tools while carving,” Dean said. “And my lower back is twisted awkwardly to brace the saw while carving.”

     49 Designs owner, Heather Taggard, has volunteered for Ice Alaska since 2005.  She is part of the web site and video production team who document the ice carvings and is responsible for the web media of the ice carvers.

     Taggard says Ice Alaska also provides the ice carvers with electricity, scaffolds, an on-site power tool repair shop and colorful lighting to show off their creative masterpieces.

     “The trip to Chena Hot Springs is a relief for the carvers,” Taggard said. “It’s a highlight they look forward to after finishing the single-block competition, because they can relax in hot water.”

     However, each carver must provide their own power tools. And Wilkin says that the power tools are expensive. He has about ten thousand dollars in carving tools and feels Ice Alaska should provide a heated storage unit for on-site overnight storage of tools.

     “It’s kind of a hassle dragging your tools up the stairs or onto the elevator,” said Wilkin. “Also you have to use a security card to get into the Westmark and your room. It can be a challenge, finding that card when it’s minus 25 degrees outside.” However, Wilkin does like the idea of staying at the Westmark after 10 to 12 hours of sculpting, instead of driving to his North Pole residence.

     Zhe An, 36, an ice carver originally from China, now lives in Fairbanks after competing in the event in 2005. He says it took him five years to get good at ice carving. “Itself satisfies me and the judging doesn’t matter,” said An. “I’m happy to just show it off and Fairbanks is the best place.”

     An demos and teaches ice carving at the Ice Museum on the corner of Second Avenue and Lacy Street year round.

     Ice Alaska is a non-profit organization, operating the ice park with about 450 volunteers, numerous sponsors and a nine member board of directors . Its new location for this year and future ice competitions is 3050 Philips Field Road, just a mile down the road from its old location.

     The home away from home is provided to all carvers for the entry fee of $100, travel to and from the event is not included.

     The end result of the ice park’s home away from home, according to Taggard, is lasting friendships and seeing the same carvers retuning again year after year. “The art speaks for itself and communicates across any language.”

Ice Art

The unusually cold weather we have been having serves only one good purpose, it means the George Horner Ice Art Park can stay open for another week. The park was scheduled to close on March 25th, but will stay open due to below-normal temperatures.

The park is always a good time for both children and adults. From the slippery slides, Fred Meyer maze, to the ice sculptures themselves, the park is always a family fun event.

The massive ice sculptures are magnificent already, but seen by night with the colored-lights propped up behind them, they are gorgeous. After spending a great amount of time on the slides with my children, we ventured through the trails to scope out the sculptures. Both me and my husband Jacob’s favorite ones were the gigantic sculptures, particularly the one titled Prickly Perception. This masterpiece had an eerie leopard about to pounce on an ever ready porcupine. My 6-year-old daughter’s favorite was a single-block ice sculpture of a butterfly. My 2-year-old son couldn’t quite capture the beauty of the art, but he seemed to get a kick out of pulling his blue plastic sled through the narrow trails causing passerby’s to stumble if they got too close.

After walking through the trails, we warmed up with hot cocoa. Ready for another round of fun, we played on the spinning ice and posed with walruses and polar bears. To top off the night, Jacob and my daughter, Kahlia, ice skated in the rink while my son slid around in his Sorel’s. We spent a good four hours reveling in the park and thanks to the many pictures taken, we'll get to remember our last year spent living in Fairbanks.

Native Arts

     This documentary is about an Inuit artist, Henry Koonook, carving a tranditional hunting tool - Snow Goggles. He misses the peaceful past that Point Hope used to be, and carving reminds him of it.

Native Arts

Extreme coorespondent Tony Pacheco visited a Akutaq-making workshop at the Festival of Native Arts where volunteer Kelsey Wallace demonstrates her Alaska style homemade "ice cream" process.

Native Arts

The first thing you notice about Marina Anderson is her bold, bright, red hair.  You would never know that she’s part Haida, Tlingit, and Jewish.  The young filmmaker from Prince of Whales Island currently resides in Fairbanks while pursuing a major in Alaska Native studies.  At 18 years old Anderson presented her first short film titled, “Reawakening the Past,” during the Deana film festival. The short film focuses on the Haida culture and their totem pool traditions.  This is an expert from my interview with the young filmmaker.

Q:  Why is important for the Festival of Native Arts to present Alaskan native films?

A:    It’s important especially to show the films when they are created by Alaskan Native filmmakers, because it shows it from their perspective.  People can live in a Haida village, or live in a Tlingit village, or Athabaskan village and know a lot about what its like to be Athabaskan or Tlingit, but your never going to really know unless you are a native Alaskan.  People aren’t going to know exactly what’s it like by watching the films, but at least they’re going to get the real point of view.  Because they’re going to what it is through our eyes, because that’s what we see.

Q: Have you seen On the Ice, a film directed by Alaskan Native Andrew MacLean? 

A:  No, but I met Andrew and spoke with him about it and I really want to go see it.

Q:  As a young filmmaker how does MacLean’s success inspire you?

A:  It’s good to see that there’s hope for people; native Alaskans who are investing, so much time and money into their projects.

Q:  Do you think that there will be a second annual Deana film festival?

A:   We’re hoping next year to make it a film festival for the 40th annual festival.  Where people can submit they’re films, we can judge them, and they can win awards.  That’s what it really comes down too, getting people names out there and helping indigenous filmmakers in Alaska.

Native Arts

Stepping into the vast halls of the University of Alaska Museum of the North, I was anxious to get my first glimpse of Greenland.Movie poster for Inuk

The 2012 Festival of Native Arts was about to show Inuk, considered the first film about modern Greenland. It was the opening film to the Denaa Film Celebration, the festival’s first ever film festival, which continued on Saturday.

Surprising, then, that I walked into the museum’s auditorium to find it a lot smaller than what I originally expected.

The room, rectangular in shape and holding seats for no more than one hundred people, was around a third full by the time I took my seat.

Around sixty people, many of whom were foreigners themselves, were seated when UAF student Naaqtuuq Dommek, one of this year’s festival organizers, took the floor to introduce the film.

Maya Salganek, a UAF film professor, Skyped with the film’s co-writer, Jean-Michel Huctin. Huctin, an anthropology professor at the International University of Paris, was excited that the film had achieved the success it had.

After the introductions, the film finally started.

The film itself was quite the surprise. It told a familiar story, but in such a refreshing, involving way.

The plot revolves around a teenager, Inuk, who moves into a foster home away from his alcoholic mother, and his journey towards self-realization. Aviaaja is the foster children’s guardian, and also the film’s narrator.

From a technical standpoint, co-writer/director Mike Magidson did an excellent job of bringing the viewer inside the character’s world.  Not only was I caught up in the characters’ struggles with each other, but also in Greenland’s shifting cultural struggle.

"The film talks about their clash that has been because of introducing contemporary things," Dommek said after the film's end.

One of the film’s strengths was the way Magidson included so much subtext about the native people without it ever being distracting. The film was shot on location, using kids and townsfolk from the actual foster home and village the story is set.

Gaba Petersen, who played the title character Inuk, says a lot without saying much. In fact, the same can be said of all the actors.

Perhaps Inupiat people share that trait, but the film’s characters seem to say more in their physical gestures than in their words.

The film was a great beginning to what may become another addition to a long list of arts showcasing native culture.

Like Aviaaja said in the film, there are many different words for ice.


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