Vera Starbard speaks at an Evening at Egan lecture last month. Perseverance Theatre announced Friday its partnership with the playwright would be extended. (Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire)

Vera Starbard speaks at an Evening at Egan lecture last month. Perseverance Theatre announced Friday its partnership with the playwright would be extended. (Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire)

Theater extends partnership with playwright-in-residence

3 more years and 6 more plays expected.

Perseverance Theatre will continue its partnership with its playwright-in-residence for at least three more years, the theater announced Friday.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation extended playwright Vera Starbard’s National Playwright Residency Program with Perseverance through June 2022, according to Perseverance Theatre. The Mellon Foundation residency comes with a $220,000 grant to Perseverance for the three additional years of Starbard’s residency, going to salary and benefits, theater administration costs and other play development activities. Starbard will be commissioned for at least three more full-length plays, for a total of six new plays written over the full length of the residency.

[‘Devilfish’ opens Perseverance Theatre’s 41st season]

Starbard is a Tlingit and Dena’ina artist who was born in Southeast Alaska, and grew up all over the state, including Juneau. She currently lives in Anchorage, where she is editor of First Alaskans Magazine, and writer for the PBS Kids animated children’s program “Molly of Denali.” Starbard has won multiple state and national awards for writing and editing, including Rasmuson Foundation’s Individual Artist Award and the 2018 Alaska Literary Award.

“This residency has been a game-changer for my writing,” Starbard said in a press release. “But I’m also so excited about what it’s lending to Alaska Native theatre as a whole. The time I can dedicate to being a bridge between other Native artists and the theatre, and other Native community partnerships, is just plain exciting. The future of Alaska Native theatre is bright.”

The theater also welcomed the news.

[Author born in Juneau shifts from poetry for her debut novel]

“We at Perseverance Theatre are grateful for The Mellon Foundation support,” said Perseverance Theatre’s Interim Artistic Director Leslie Ishii in a press release. “Vera Starbard is creating ground-breaking work that the American theater hasn’t seen before Vera came along. Vera’s creative brilliance has her grappling with longstanding and contemporary issues in relationship with traditional knowledge. Her plays are insightful with humor, pathos, and what I call, ‘truth lines,’ that are full of wisdom for the ages. It is such an honor to direct Vera’s world premiere, ‘Devilfish,’ and we are excited for Vera to continue with Perseverance through this residency program.”

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