San Diego Playwrights

Getting San Diego Playwrights Produced on San Diego Stages

OUR VOICES WILL BE HEARD–An Interview with Vera Starbard

on May 30, 2014


Tell us about yourself.

My Tlingit name is Tset’ Kwei, and I come from a Tlingit and Dena’ina Athabascan heritage (indigenous Alaskan groups.) I was born in Craig, Alaska, a small town on Prince of Wales Island, and now make my home in Anchorage. I have my own business, Writing Raven Communications, and am Associate Editor for First Alaskans Magazine. I am engaged to a wonderful Inupiaq/Cree man, Joe Bedard, and we are adopting our daughter Darrian soon.


Tell us about your play.

“Our Voices Will Be Heard” is a story of what happens when the secrets of a family’s sexual abuse come into the light, following the journey of a mother of an abused daughter. It is definitely quite heavy, and autobiographical, though the setting is a late 19th century Tlingit village. I have woven in the culture of storytelling, and the visually striking art of the Tlingit people. The actors are all wearing traditional button robes my mother made, as the blankets themselves are used as a metaphor for the culture.

What are your challenges? What are your successes?

For the play, the most challenging part was that it is so autobiographical. I had to push myself to see the story through a viewpoint that was out of my comfort zone, and try and serve the story more than the “facts” of my own life. I was trying to impart the emotion of how the experience felt more than the exact events as they happened.

I think the success of the play this far is in the language and artistry of the story. While I have many things to fix still, my culture and the weaving of the ‘literal’ story and how the emotions played out are coming across to the audience so far.

What is your next step?

For the play, the next step is a workshop, reading, and possible production in Juneau. The script still needs plenty of work, but my time with Native Voices at the Autry has been invaluable. It is already a better script in the week I’ve been with Native Voices.

For theater, my fiancé and three additional playwrights started a Native theater company in Anchorage, Dark Winter Productions. In the short time we’ve been in operation, we have already great successes. Our intent is to grow the Native theater community in Alaska, with not only a play like “Our Voices Will Be Heard,” but more Native-written, directed, and acted plays.

Thank you for talking with us Vera! Good luck with OUR VOICES WILL BE HEARD and the Native Voices Festival!

Come see Our Voices Will Be Heard at La Jolla Playhouse on Saturday, May 31st at 5:00 pm! For more information or reservations, visit:

Native Voices at La Jolla Playhouse

16th Annual Festival of New Plays

FREE public staged readings!

There is no “I” in NDN  By Jennifer Bobiwash (Ojibway*) Saturday, May 31, 2014, 2:00 p.m.

Our Voices Will Be Heard By Vera Starbard (Tlingit/Dena’ina*) La Jolla Playhouse: Saturday, May 31, 2014, 5:00 p.m.

Note: A light supper will be provided between the two readings on Saturday.

Measure for Measure Adapted by Randy Reinholz (Choctaw*) La Jolla Playhouse: Sunday, June 2, 2014, 2:00 p.m.

These readings are free to attend, but we strongly encourage reserving your seats by visiting our website,


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