Multicultural dance group Yees Ku Oo performs at the Dec. 4 fundraiser for Tlingit playwright Frank Kaash Katasse's upcoming play, "They Don't Talk Back."

Multicultural dance group Yees Ku Oo performs at the Dec. 4 fundraiser for Tlingit playwright Frank Kaash Katasse's upcoming play, "They Don't Talk Back."

How to support Alaska Native theatre in Juneau

Perseverance Theatre on Dec. 4 held a fundraiser for Juneau playwright Frank Henry Kaash Katasse’s upcoming play, “They Don’t Talk Back.”

The multicultural dance group Yees Ku Oo started the fundraiser off with songs in the Tsimshian, Aleut, and Tlingit languages. Song and dance, Katasse told the audience, is part of the inspiration behind the play, which focuses on a Tlingit family “in their everyday lives, dealing with their everyday problems.”

The money will help produce the play, but it will also be “helping perpetuate Alaska Native theatre at PT (Perseverance Theatre,)” Katasse wrote in an email. Tlingit/Athabascan playwrite Vera Starbard’s play “Our Voices Will be Heard” started off 2016 at Perseverance Theatre; Katasse’s will start off 2017. Starbard now has a three-year writing residency with the theatre.

Katasse met other indigenous people involved in theatre during the production of Starbard’s play, for which he was an actor, and was encouraged to submit “They Don’t Talk Back” for a competition at Native Voices at the Autry, which dedicates itself to new work by Native American artists. The organization chose his play, producing it in California this spring.

Perseverance artistic director Art Rotch told the audience that fostering connections like that is part of Perseverance’s mission.

“Once you find the people that get you, you can really soar,” he said. “We want to be a place people can meet one another and develop those collaborative relationships.”

Each dollar donated for “They Don’t Talk Back,” up to $20,000, will be matched by matching grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Gaguine Foundation.

“The best way for the community to help PT keep that commitment (to Alaska Native theatre) is by donating and/or going to the shows,” Katasse wrote.

“They Don’t Talk Back” will begin Jan. 27 and will run four weeks in Juneau. Afterwards it will head to Hoonah, then to Anchorage.

To donate, go to The fundraising goal is $40,000.

Frank Kaash Katasse talks about his play, "They Don't Talk Back." It's based in a Southeast Alaskan village and will open at Perseverance Theater Jan. 27.

Frank Kaash Katasse talks about his play, “They Don’t Talk Back.” It’s based in a Southeast Alaskan village and will open at Perseverance Theater Jan. 27.

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