Our Founders

Katie Jensen and Aaron Elmore met through mutual friends in July of 1990. They were doing summer stock, Katie in Juneau at The Lady Lou Review, Aaron in Skagway at The Days of '98 Show with Soapy Smith. There in the hallway at Merchant's Wharf, they fell in love instantly, settled on marriage while in British Columbia a month later, and got the deed done on March 9th 1991. The idea for Theatre in the Rough came during Katie's second and Aaron's first summer with Lady Lou. Spend time with either one of them and you'll understand why it's a natural result of the meeting of their minds.

Our Name

Katie and Aaron of course got our name from the phrase ''diamond in the rough,'' which reflects themselves, their then newly adopted home of Juneau, and the unpolished Hero that lies in every character waiting for circumstances to make them shine. It also calls to mind Elizabethan ruffs, those goofy collars we wear when trying to evoke the time of Shakespeare.

Our Town

It is a place of exquisite natural beauty, the State Capital, a little town of 30,000 souls -long timers and transplants, with no road out but the Marine Highway System. Airplanes here have jet engines, some of them, but lots have floats or even skis. It can be a bit damp, it being a temperate rainforest. Only 150 measly inches of precipitation a year. Cold here is 10 below, hot is 80. Mostly it's about 40-45. Winters can be dark or bright with snow. Summers wet or warm and mild. We are close to the salt water here and all of its creatures. Close to our mountains too, full of gold and goats and devil's club and spruce trees. Juneau, Alaska is our home.


[In addition to being voted Best Eyes in high school]

Alaska State Council on the Arts Governors Award for Most Outstanding Arts Organization, Anchorage, 2002. Held off the opening night of King Lear so we could go to Anchorage to get the award. Teched on Thursday, Award on Friday, Opened on Saturday.

Bishop Kenny Artistic Excellence Award to Katie Jensen and Aaron Elmore, Perseverance Theatre, Bishop Kenny Memorial Fund, Juneau, 2002. Left the curtain call of King Lear as Edmund and the Fool to attend the awards banquet at Twisted Fish. Arrived in chain mail and ruff respectively.

Meritorious Service Award to KJ and AE. University of Alaska Southeast, Commencement, 2008. Past awardees include, among others, local arts favorites George and Jean Rogers and Perseverance Theatre founder, Molly Smith.

Juneau Mayor's Innovative Application of the Arts Award to KJ, AE and TR, 2011. -''especially for their ambitious and tireless commitment to the rebuilding of McPhetres Hall.''

The Fire

March 12, 2006. Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, McPhetres Hall, our storage rooms, and the house next door were consumed by a fire set in a boat stored next door. The fire started at about 2 AM and by 6 AM, it was all gone. But no one was hurt, and the fire spread no further. The fire took everything but two curtains, two swords, one dagger, and a spread of one or two costume pieces from every show we've ever done.

At the time of the fire, Katie was costume designer for Opera to Go's production of Don Giovanni in which Aaron sang the title role. The wardrobe had been loaded out to the high school the day before. Katie had set the piece in the Late Theatre in the Rough Rustic Romantic period and, by chance, saved at least one piece from almost every single show we've done: the red vest made from fabric from their trip to Paris (it's been in everything), rags from Midsummer, one piece of Aaron's hand beading from Comedy, Boots from Puss in Boots (also in everything). Theatre in the Rough's loss was estimated at close to $100,000. Buyable stuff like light and sound equipment (systems which had just been completed) was not so troubling. Much harder to lose was the 15 years worth of irreplaceable costumes, props, masks, our beloved puppets, buckets of ruffs, a slew of vintage kimonos, some very nice drums, leather armor, banners from Richard III, and countless other objects, most of them handmade, most of them by Aaron himself.

Some stuff was salvaged. Months after the fire, frozen solid and then soaked with spring rains, numerous bits of chain mail, some masks, some props and many of the prop weapons were pulled from the wreckage and have since been rehabilitated. They are great reminders of a wonderful stock of gear and are a nice metaphor for our plans to rebuild. At the request of the parish and leadership at Holy Trinity, Aaron designed a real live theatre in the New McPhetres Hall with a proscenium arch, curtains, catwalk, demountable seating and all the trimmings! All that was needed was the money to pay for it.

In October, 2008, we launched the New Home Fund with the Juneau Community Foundation, with the goal of raising $150,000 by March of 2011 to finish and furnish the New McPhetres. The New Home Fund was a way for our fans to contribute directly to this project through Theatre in the Rough. We hoped to do Our Town in an unfinished McPhetres in the Spring of 2011, and then have everyone back for our Fall show in a finished hall.

In 2011, TR's production of Our Town opened on March 18th, in a sparce an incomplete new hall that was perfect for the occasion. On October 14th, A Midsummer Night's Dream opened, complete with a painted stage floor, wood trim, and even a curtain. Juneau did it, and TR had a new, permanent home.

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