Story last updated at 1:55 p.m. Thursday, April 25, 2002

Bunnell performance to take light look at life
by Carey James
Staff Writer

photo: entertainment
  Photo supplied
Patricia Ekert  
Patricia Eckert's ideal vegetarian meal is French fries, a Dr Pepper and cherry pie.

"I was born a vegetarian, but not a healthy vegetarian, so I find very little understanding and warmth from vegetarians," Eckert said while explaining one of two half-hour performances she will present Sunday at the Bunnell Street Gallery at 7 p.m.

"Born Vegetarian" and "Scared Silly" are monologues accompanied by projected images, developed by Eckert as part of the Out North Contemporary Art House's "Under 30" program. The program encourages new works by Alaskan artists in virtually any performance media, with each work limited to less than 30 minutes on stage. "Born Vegetarian" was first performed in 1999, while "Scared Silly" was presented this year.

Eckert said both performances are light looks at the quirks of life, from a sixth-grade belief that she will never kiss a boy because Jesus was coming, to learning how to swim at age 35.

Each of the works was shown in the annual winter "Under 30" week of performances at the Anchorage performance art center. Eckert said having the opportunity to hone the production using feedback from seven different audiences only made it better.

"It's very useful to get feedback as to what's working and what's confusing in terms of my pieces," she said. "I really learned from the audiences."

Eckert worked for seven years with the Alaska Repertory Theatre in the 1980s, and in 1998, wrote "Born Vegetarian" as part of a trilogy. "Scared Silly" followed two years later, and more are coming, she said. Though her off-stage life has made progress on the plays a tad slower than she might have liked, Eckert said having the opportunity to work on them with Out North has been immeasurably valuable.

"There aren't that many opportunities to bring along work that is fledgling in nature," she said. "It needs a home and an audience and Out North does the work of providing the home and gathering the audience."

Eckert said she was selected to come to Homer and present her work because hers was the most "portable" performance of this year's "Under 30" crop.

"It's kind of like hearing the mission story at church where a nice person tells interesting stories," she said. "The audience will hopefully go places and think about things in a way that they might not have thought about them before."

Tickets for the show are $10 for gallery members, $12 for general admission, and $11 for seniors. The program is recommended for mature audiences only because of the discussions of the end of time and biblical plagues.