Fairbanks community shares stories in Dark Winter Nights
by Anessia Hubler
“I think Alaska reality shows are ruining the reputation of the people that live in Alaska. I wish they would make a show that would really be the true thing, something that shows how great the people here are,” Freshman Mechanical Engineering student Briar Wallace said.
Associate Professor of Journalism Rob Prince hopes to make Wallace’s wish come true.
Prince is putting together a live show, that will also air on the radio, called “Dark Winter Nights,” where real Alaskans tell real stories about their life in Alaska.
“The stories run the range from hilarious and heartwarming to terrifying and sad,” said Prince.
“I was irritated with how reality TV programs have exploited Alaska and created a bizarre caricature of this great state, so I wanted to create something that would allow Alaskans to share their own stories with the rest of the world,” Prince said.
He created a live show that displayed what Alaska and the people who live here are truly like last spring. This fall, “Dark Winter Nights” will be on Saturday, Nov. 22 at 8 p.m. in the Pioneer Park Civic Center Theater. Admission is free.
“The live event is designed to be a great night for Fairbanks and will also get incorporated into the radio program and podcast so people outside of Alaska can hear awesome, true stories about the real Alaska,” Prince said.
A story Prince shared from last years performance was Melissa Buchta, who’s legally blind, seeing a killer whale for the first time, “Her story was both hilarious and moving as she talked about her mother’s awkward attempts to help her see Alaskan wildlife and the magical moment when the wildlife basically came to her.” This story, along with others, are now in the podcast version of Dark Winter Nights.Photographer and arts graduate student Alyssa Enriquez will share a story that originated as a poem and grew into a story with Prince’s help.
“I had written a poem about the sudden loss of a loved one due to a self inflicted injury,” Enriquez said. She took a month long trip to Nome to work and it transformed into falling in love with her partner, becoming part of a community and exploring Alaska’s Seward Peninsula by boat, plane and snowmachine.
Other than the stage show, Prince also does a 30 minute long radio show that airs every third Saturday of the month at 7 p.m. on KUAC-FM. “It’s a mix of stories from the live events, interviews and archival recordings,” Prince said.
“I love Dark Winter Nights because it’s a multi-level platform – radio, TV, CD, DVD, podcast and live,” Amanda Huff said. She works at FNSB public library on Cowles Street as a library assistant, who is volunteering to help coordinate Dark Winter Nights. Prince wants the audience to be captured by these stories.
The story tellers will be accompanied on stage by the band Emily Anderson and Thought Trade. The band will be playing music while the story tellers tell their story: “We will be playing all different kinds of music, it all depends on what will go best with the story.” Emily Anderson said. The band, consisting of guitar, piano and drums is made of up members from the local Fairbanks band Thought Trade.
Anderson, who was born and raised in Fairbanks, first got into music when she was young. “My house was always filled with music,” Emily said. Emily’s love for music grew as she learned how to play the piano and the ukulele. She also did a lot of singing as she got older and joined a choir. After she graduated she went to Berklee school of music. She got involved in Dark Winter Night when Rob Prince asked her and her band to play for the show.
” So far we’ve only heard rough recordings of half of the stories, and a summary of two others, we have to be sensitive and adaptable as we are playing. Ready to change direction and dynamic in any given moment” said drummer Travis Burrows.