The idea for the Alaska World Arts Festival came about with a long jet-plane conversation, said organizer Sally Oberstein.
“I was sitting next to a guy on an airplane coming from Ireland,” Oberstein said. “He said, ‘For the rest of my life I will never do anything in August except attend the Edinburgh International Festival.’ I said, ‘Tell me about it.’”
Known as the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the weeks long event held in late summer in Scotland’s capital city this year sold 556,000 tickets — more than Edinburgh’s population — with 250 daily shows. Homer might be a wee bit smaller, but in terms of acts and events, the World Arts Festival packs as much punch for its size.
It starts next Friday, Sept. 6, with art gallery openings, jazz at Bunnell Street Arts Center, the KP Brass Band at the Alibi and two short plays at Pier One Theatre. Continuing through Sept. 19, it ends with the last of the Homer Documentary Film Festival and a big closing party at Alice’s Champagne Palace.
After that plane conversation about the Edinburgh Fringe, Oberstein said she thought to herself, “Why don’t we have it here because we have so much going on. I started talking to people and they said, ‘It sounds like a great idea.’”
With sponsorship from Land’s End Resort, KBBI Public Radio and the Homer Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center, the Alaska World Arts Fest features main stage Mariner Theatre performances by Beatles tribute band the Fab Four, Quixotic, and Tom Bodett’s True Stories About Home.
Oberstein said the Fab Four are considered a note-for-note perfection of Beatles performances, right down to the Paul McCartney persona playing left handed.
“They’re supposed to be the best imitation Beatles group in the world,” she said.
Quixotic returns to the lower peninsula after performances in Homer and at Salmonfest. Based in Kansas City, Missouri, the circus art, musical and multimedia group brings home Mica Thomas, born and raised here, its executive producer. Quixotic combines music, dance, circus acts, animated videos, fashion, costuming, sound and lighting into a grand fusion of performance art.
Also coming back is another Homer-raised genius, Andrew Vait, playing in concert at Alice’s Champagne Palace.
A writer and storyteller formerly of Homer and now living in Vermont, Bodett returns after eight years to the town that launched his career on KBBI with stories later broadcast on National Public Radio. He’s now featured on the national radio show “Wait, Wait … Don’t Tell Me.”
Bodett’s show features storytellers from The Moth, the national spoken word storyteller series that has inspired local storytelling like Homer’s own Spit Takes. Bodett calls the show “a straight-up rendition of a Moth MainStage event.” He will be joined by The Moth veterans Peter Aguero and Dameon Wilburn, “Wait, Wait” producer Ian Chillag, and Anchorage artist, helicopter pilot and The Moth storyteller Amy Malouf.
“This show is going to be amazing,” Bodett wrote in an email. “These folks are the real deal.”
While Bodett told stories live and on the radio 35 years ago, he wrote that he thinks “the resurgence of stories as entertainment is a direct response to the digitization of our lives and relationships.”
“We’re more connected than ever with our devices, and in a less-human way than ever before,” he wrote. “We crave the organic experience of person-to-person connection without even knowing we’ve been missing it.”
If people seek that connection, the Alaska World Arts Fest will give that to them in not only big stage productions, but intimate club performances, art and music workshops, talks and films. Performance artist Enzina Marrari does a piece at The Shop: Kachemak Bay Art Space. Nature photographer and writer Amy Gulick does a talk on her new book, “The Salmon Way.” Another writer, Kathleen Dean Moore, also speaks.
World Arts Fest also includes traditional September events like the Homer Documentary Film Festival and the annual Burning Basket.
Another former Homer performer, Jocelyn Shiro, returns with a dance workshop. Musicologist and musician Habib Iddrisu does an African drumming workshop and then performs with students at the SPARC. There will be children’s art, world art, dance by Alaska and Hawaiian Natives, fisher poets from Astoria, Oregon, and performers from the United States and around the world.
“I’m just trying to make sure we hit everything,” Oberstein said. “… To be able to bring that kind of culture here and share it and just to show we have it is pretty fun. It’s more than fun. … It’s really rewarding.”
Ninety activities will be free, and many others are priced at $15 and up. Land’s End Resort offers a festival special for two people of two nights at Land’s End, two dinners, two festival member badges, and a choice of tickets to one performance of the Fab Four, Quixotic and other events, all for $550. A grand festival pass for everything also is $550. A $25 member badge offers free admission to the Hula Dance Workshop , Theater Fringe Festival , An Evening of Comedy and International Spectacle of Featured Artists.
For more information, visit https://www.alaskaworldarts.org.
8 p.m., Two plays: “Picasso at the Lapin Agile,” by Steve Martin, “Breaking the Ice,” by Kieran Lynn, Pier One Theatre
8 p.m., Jeffrey Lee Mills, Jazz at Bunnell Street Arts Center
Noon – 4 p.m,., Pottery Expose — pottery studio art tour
4-6 p.m. : World Arts Welcome Gala, Homer Chamber of Commerce
7 p.m.: Tom Bodett at the Mariner Theater – True Stories About Home
11 a.m.-noon: World Playground Music Program with special guest Tom Carty, Bishop’s Beach Pavilion
4-6 p.m.: Beer Park Music Jam – Homer Brewing Company
7-8:30 p.m.: Photography slideshow, “The Salmon Way: An Alaska State of Mind,” with Amy Gulick, Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center
8-10 p.m.: Performance Piece – The “of relation” works, by Enzina Marrar, The Shop
7 p.m.: Quixotic Cirque Nouveau –Mariner Theatre
7-9 p.m.: Hula Dance Workshop, Ka Pa Hula o Ka Lei Lehua Hawaiian Hula Dancers, Homer United Methodist Church
9 p.m.: Theater Fringe Festival, Alice’s Champagne Palace
7-9 p.m.: Rhythm/Drumming Workshop with Habib Iddrisu, United Methodist Church
6-10:30 p.m.: Gala Opening Event – Homer Documentary Film Festival
3-5 p.m. : Literary Readings, “Writing at the Edge of the World” with Alaska writers and Festival-featured nonfiction writer/environmental activist Kathleen Dean Moore, with readings by local writers Rich Chiappone, Erin Hollowell, Miranda Weiss, Dave Atcheson, and Nancy Lord; Kachemak Bay Campus
7-9 p.m.: Family Cultural Show, Alaska Nanwalek Seal Dancers, Ka Pa Hula o Ka Lei Lehua Hawaiian Hula dancers, Northern Ghana drummer Dr. Habib Iddrisu, traditional Turkish music by North Sun, Indian dance performance by Dharti Patel, Latin Salsa with Dharti Patel and Alex Roznowski, and a shared marimba performance, South Peninsula Athletic & Recreation Center (SPARC)
9 p.m. Andrew Vait in Concert, Alice’s Champagne Palace
8-10 p.m.: Burning Basket: Radiate – Basket of Remembrance and Unburdening
8-10 p.m.: An Evening of Comedy. Hosted by Darrel Oliver with Derrick Eason, Dawson Moore, Evan Boyer,and other comedians, Alice’s Champagne Palace
7 p.m.: FisherPoets – Alice’s Champagne Palace
4-7 p.m. Food, Art, Music & Book Launch – Donna Maltz, a reading from her memoir (of sorts) “Living Like the Future Matters And ARTtrageous Food,” Fresh Sourdough Express
4-5:30 p.m.: Youth Poetry and Performing Workshop with FisherPoet Steve Schoonmaker.
7-9 p.m.: An Evening of Art Trivia – Alice’s Champagne Palace
9 p.m.: Justin Cole’s Down East Saloon – Live Music with John Cottingham