Alaska’s purchase celebrated in upcoming Triumvirate show

  • Thursday, March 2, 2017 9:20pm
  • News

The Triumvirate Theatre and Nikiski students have come together to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the purchase of Alaska in a unique way, by combining a radio drama and puppet show.

“Seward’s So-Called Folly” is written and directed by Joseph Rizzo, coach of the North Star Elementary School’s Drama Debate Forensics Team, and features performances by students on the team.

There will be one public showing at 7 p.m. this Saturday at the Triumvirate Theatre in North Kenai.

“It can be a challenge to write an exciting show about a whole lot of meetings,” Rizzo explained. He said he overcame this challenge by presenting the story in two unique acts.

The first act is presented as a radio drama, with students on stage detailing the different events leading up to Alaska’s purchase from Russia while a visual representation is projected on screen.

“It’s illustrated with artwork from kids at Kenai, SoHi and Nikiski,” Rizzo said.

The second act is told through puppets and shows what happens in Alaska after the purchase.

“We have various puppets going out with fishing boats and falling trees, talking about the gold rush and all those types of things,” Rizzo said.

While the students move the puppets, adult actors from Kenai Performers and Triumvirate Theatre voice them.

“It’s very difficult to puppet and do the voices at the same time, so we prerecorded it all,” Rizzo said.

The play was funded by a grant from the Department of Natural Resources, according to Rizzo, and was awarded to projects throughout the state that contribute to understanding the history of Alaska’s transfer from Russia.

Through the grant, the Nikiski Drama Debate Forensics Team and the Triumvirate Theatre have been able to invite every student from Nikiski North Star School Elementary School to attend “Seward’s So-Called Folly” over the course of five showings throughout the week.

At the public showing on Saturday, children under 18 years old are invited to attend for free. Adult tickets are $15 and are available at

For those who can’t make Saturday’s showing, the play will also be filmed and archived in the Soldotna and Kenai libraries, Rizzo said.

Reach Kat Sorensen at

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