Vera Starbard is an Alaska Native storyteller with Tlingit and Dena’ina Athabascan heritage. She is a
playwright-in-residence at Perseverance Theater. Her first play commissioned through the residency, Devilfish, premiered in Anchorage and Juneau in 2019. Learn more at verastarbard.com.
“Devilfish was produced in November 2019. Maybe six months ago, sort of through different people, I got a message. It was an email to someone, but it wasn’t coming to me. It was a Native person who was saying they’ve never seen themselves reflected in a stage piece before. They were reluctant even to go because they thought that my play would be hurtful, harmful, and they thought it would be giving people the stereotype that they want about Native people. The email was almost a year and a half after the play. It was talking about how the play was still with him— that he felt so proud to be Native while he was watching it, and a year and a half later was still thinking about how proud it made him to be Native. That made a huge impact on me because that was the point. Going into [Devilfish] I told my mentor this is a play for Native people. It’s a love letter to Tlingit people and all I really want is to make Tlingit people proud. So, to have that reaffirmed a year and a half later by a guy that was still carrying that with him just meant a lot.”