Evon Peter: Changing the Statistics

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Last month, a documentary that examines the impact of suicide on the lives of four Alaskans premiered on PBS World Channel’s America ReFramed. Early in We Breathe Again, filmmakers share the distressing statistic that suicide is a leading cause of death for Alaska Natives between the ages of 15 and 24. My guest this episode is Evon Peter. He not only was a producer for the documentary, but has been a Gwich’in tribal chief and educator. Currently, he serves as Vice Chancellor for rural, community and Native education at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He knows firsthand the challenges of growing up in rural Alaska.

Also on the show, this weekend the Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra will perform Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet Suite #2. Most people know, suicide figures in Shakespeare’s play. As you’ll hear in the next several interviews, the play’s tragic ending often prompted adapters and producers to change the work into a comedy. I asked Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra’s principle bassoonist and marketing director George Rydlinski to lead us through Prokofiev’s treatment of Romeo and Juliet and how other composers responded to the play.

I also talked with University of Alaska English professor and Shakespeare scholar Terry Reilly about the play’s enduring popularity.

And word maven Chris Lott shares several of the Bard’s more colorful phrases in another episode of katexic clippings.

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