Juneau Radio Center presents
Perseverance Theatre's production of

The Spirit of the Valley

Written and Directed by Frank Henry Kaash Katasse

Movement Directors Daxkilatch ka Xeetli.eesh
Graphic Designer Nobu Koch
Costume Designer Yeeskanaalx Tláa, Rochelle Smallwood
Sound Designer Ed Littlefield
Online Presentation Designer Josh Lowman
Stage Manager Chris Schweiger*


Artistic Director Leslie Ishii
Managing Director Frank Delaney
Producer Joseph Biagini
Production Manager Jennifer Bobiwash


With Support From

Juneau Radio Center

Alaska Airlines
The Island Pub
Hecla Greens Creek
Coeur Alaska – Kensington Mine
Alaska Marine Lines
MRV Architects
NorthWind Architects
Valley Medical Care
Alaskan Brewing Company
Specialty Imports
Valley Paint Center
National Endowment for the Arts
Alaska State Council on the Arts
Juneau Arts & Humanities Council
City & Borough of Juneau
Municipality of Anchorage
Atwood Foundation
Rasmuson Foundation
Shubert Foundation

Special Thanks

X’unei Lance Twitchell, La quen naáy Elizabeth Medicine Crow, Stacy Katasse

Artistic Director's Note

Welcome to Perseverance Theatre’s 42nd Season: Perseverance Everywhere!

We are so delighted you are joining us for the virtual premiere of the Live Video Theatre production, The Spirit Of The Valley, by award-winning Alaska Native playwright and director, Frank Henry Kaash Katasse (Tlingit).

As we begin our viewing experience, Perseverance Theatre acknowledges and shares their active learnings of the unceded lands upon which our theatre is located.

We reside on the territory of the Áakʼw Ḵwáan on what is currently known as Douglas and Juneau, Alaska. It is all Lingit Aani, Tlingit land, which has been stewarded by the Tlingit peoples since time immemorial. Additionally, we invite you to join us in honoring and expressing deep gratitude to the Dena’ina Peoples of Southcentral Alaska where we also conduct our work in Anchorage. We invite you to honor these beautiful Tlingit and Dena’ina homelands. Gunalchéesh, Háw’aa, T'oyaxsn, and Chin’an gheli.

At a time when we long for connection, the jovial and improvisational sense of play with which Frank Henry Kaash Katasse charms us is why I am so excited for you to experience The Spirit Of The Valley! Frank and this talented cast and crew bring us together with humor, adventure, and a beautiful opportunity to find ourselves appreciating the land upon which we are set and what it means to be good stewards.

As we learn to more deeply acknowledge Tlingit Aani and the lands upon which we reside, it is my hope that your journey with The Spirit Of The Valley is transformative as you, too, experience the powerful teachings of these culture bearers in the Tlingit storytelling traditions. So, I’d like to express my deep gratitude to our movement directors, Daxkilatch ka Xeetlieesh, Lyle (Tlingit, Hawaiian, Filipino) and Kolene James (Tlingit/Tsimshian), and the costume and make-up design of Rochelle Smallwood (Tlingit) with make-up design support from Jill Kaasteen Meserve (Tlingit), also to Nobu Koch, visual artist and illustrator, who draws us into stunning visuals, since the environment is a lead character in this new work.

This virtual premiere of The Spirit Of The Valley inspires me to invite you to join us in finding ways to recognize, honor, and enact our land acknowledgments in meaningful ways.

Human connection to each other and the land is critical right now for our well-being during this pandemic. I am thrilled that we are able to connect with you virtually until we are back in-person and thank you for your tremendous support, especially during these challenging times!

Stories remind us that the richest and often most genius innovations come out of the need for them. My deepest gratitude to the artists of The Spirit Of The Valley and our entire staff for this inventive production. Your hard work and dedication create transformational change that brings healing and artistic excellence. 

Perseverance Theatre proudly remains committed to creating professional theatre by and for Alaskans.

It is an honor and pleasure to serve as your Artistic Director.

Gunalchéesh, Háw’aa, T’oyaxsn, and Chin'an gheli ~

Leslie Ishii
Perseverance Theatre



Shayna Jackson*


Jill Meserve


Samantha Bowling*


Jake Waid*


Skyler Ray-Benson Davis


Kholan Studi


Erin Tripp


*Members of Actors Equity Association

Additional Production Staff

Virginia Roldan

Props Master

Chris Schweiger*

Stage Manager

Brita Fagerstrom

Assistant Stage Manager

Sarah Wallace


Leslie Ishii

Artistic Director

Frank Delaney                                                                                           

Managing Director

Joseph Biagini

Associate Producer

Jennifer Bobiwash

Production Manager

Erika Stone

Director of Marketing and Engagement

Benjamin Brown

Development Director

Josh Lowman

Associate Managing Director

Irene Martinko

Literary and Producing Associate

Lewis Chapman

Arts Administration Fellow/Box Office Associate

Lily Odekirk

Outreach and Education Associate

Caleb Bourgeois

General Manager

Vera Starbard


Alexis Sheeder

Anchorage Outreach and Development Associate


Upcoming Shows

A Tlingit Christmas Carol
by Vera Starbard

A Christmas Carol just got a lot more Tlingit! We’ve all heard the classic story: it’s Christmas, there are spirits involved, a grumpy man says “Bah Humbug…” But what would happen if that story took place right here, right now in southeast Alaska? E.B. Scrooge is a successful, wealthy business person, but he’s not the nicest guy in town. In fact, most of the time, he’s downright mean. Can he learn to become a better person? Can he avoid the same tragic fate as his old friend Marley?  Carol your way through this holiday classic, with a very Tlingit twist!

A Tlingit Christmas Carol by Vera Starbard will be released in streamed staves during the holiday season.

This Wonderful Life
by Steve Murray

One actor inhabits every role in this hilariously touching stage adaptation of the iconic holiday film It's a Wonderful Life. George Bailey, Clarence, Mr. Potter, and the gang come to life as a single actor creates a heartwarming story about the effect one hardworking man's life has on the people around him.

Dates: 12/12, 12/13, 12/19, 12/20

About the Playwright

Frank Henry Kaash Katasse is an Alaska Native from the Tlingit clan Tsaagweidí. Frank is an actor, director, producer, improviser, educator and playwright. Frank received his Bachelor’s Degree in Theatre Arts from the University of Hawai’i: Mānoa. Frank currently serves as the Board President of Juneau Douglas Little Theatre ( and has been involved with Perseverance Theatre (PT) since the fall of 2008. 2017 saw the rolling world premiere of Frank’s play They Don’t Talk Back at Perseverance Theatre, Native Voices at the Autry, and La Jolla Playhouse.



Samantha Bowling (Bear) (Cherokee, Algonquin) is in her sixth year as an Artists’ Ensemble Member of Native Voices At The Autry. She performs stand up, improv and musical comedy around Los Angeles, and she also writes music and practices aerial arts. Sam received Best Actress at Campus Movie Fest in New York City for her performance in The Dance, created the comedy collective Bipolar Fantasy Squad, and is a founding member of the non profit film production company Chrysalis Pictures. Credits, Theatre; This Was Never Supposed To Be A One Woman Show: A One Woman Show! (Independent Theatre, New York City), The Lowell Offering (Merrimack Repertory Theater, Boston MA), Under a Big Sky (Native Voices at the Autry/Idaho Rep), Written In Stone: Reservations (The La Jolla Playhouse), Informed Consent (The Lantern Theatre, Philadelphia PA), Off The Rails (Native Voices at the Autry), I May Be Dead But I Still Love You (Complex Theatre, Los Angeles): TV/Film: Back to Awesome (Amazon), The Surface, Tomb Invaders (SyFy), Blood Brothers (LMN), Cut (MBC), Dirty Laun­dry (Chrysalis Pictures).

Skyler Ray Benson Davis (Raven) is a (re)actor, writer of wrongs, a mus(ish)cian, and of the Eagle Moiety, being a grandchild of the Jilkaat Kwaan, of the Tlingit. He was born in Juneau, Alaska, spent much of his adolescence in Anchorage; mushed dogs in Tok, AK, and rode horses in Koosharem, UT, for a year and three days. This will be his eighth production with Perseverance Theatre, and his second with Frank Henry (Kaash) Katasse as author, the first being PT's 2017 production of They Don't Talk Back.

Skyler is grateful to be telling this story about nature, and the nature of ourselves. He wants to acknowledge the ancestors of all creeds and cultures, in this digital age, creating virtually in a shared space. Gunalcheesh Haatyeeadi.

DaxKilatch ka Xeetli.éesh (Culture Bearers / Movement Directors)’s home communities include Hoonah and Kake, Alaska. 

Lyle’s Lingít name is Xeetli.éesh. He is Filipino, Hawaiian, and Kaagwaantaan (Eagle/Wolf, Killer whale). His clan is from Kaax’nóowu (Grouse Fort) and his house is Gooch hít (Wolf House). He is the child of the Hawaiian and the Kiks.adi(Raven/Frog). His parents are Elizabeth Pratt and Owen James. He is married to his Gaanax Sháa, Kolene, and they have 3 amazing Gaanax.adi children Devon ~ Goochaa, Kordell ~ Yéikee, and Corinne ~ Kanik. 

Ka- Kolene’s Lingít name is DaxKilatch. She is Gaanax.adi of the Taant’a Kwáan and her house is Yunwulihashi hít (Drifted Ashore House). She is also Tsimshian, Ghanhada from the Half Woman Half Seamonster House. Her parents are Francis and Norma Jean of Metlakatla, AK. Her father's people are the Tsimshian, Kaagwaantaan, English and Irish. Her home communities include Ketchikan and Metlakatla, Alaska.

Xeetli.éesh ka DaxKilatch resides in Juneau, AK with their family. When not harvesting around Southeast Alaska, they can be found at UAS and in the Juneau School District exploring ways to enhance education through cultural safety and equity. They are the Woosh.Ji.Een Dance Group Leaders, Tlingit traditional song composers, culture bearers in training, storytellers, and choreographers.


Shayna Jackson (Kaash) is thrilled to be making her debut with Perseverance Theatre. In 2019, she portrayed the lead role in the world premier of Sand Moon at Son of Semele Ensemble in Los Angeles. Other credits include performing with the cast of Distant Thunder at the National Alliance for Musical Theatre Songwriters Showcase in NYC, as well as appearing in the award-winning AFI film Running Shadow. Shayna has a degree in vocal performance from Musicians Institute in Hollywood, where she also studied keyboard technology. She lives in NYC with her husband, and enjoys playing the ukulele to her 16-year-old chihuahua, Sheba. Her single “Take Time” is available on Spotify and iTunes.

Nobu Koch (Graphic Artist) is a multimedia artist and illustrator whose work is heavily influenced by her Japanese heritage. She illustrated Mary’s Wild Winter Feast by Hannah Lindoff with Clarissa Rizal, has provided background paintings for Baby Raven and Baby Eagle in Sealaska Heritage Institute’s Baby Raven Reads series, and is always folding paper cranes for senbazuru. She is currently a graphic designer/publications specialist at SHI where she works on projects ranging from children’s books to exhibit design. Nobu was born and raised in Juneau and still calls it home.

Ed Littlefield (Composer / Sound Designer / Audio Operator) is a freelance percussionist, educator and composer based out of Seattle, WA. He is Tlingit Kaagwaantaan from Sitka, Alaska and has released three albums featuring traditional native melodies with the Native Jazz Quartet. He has worked on the world premieres of Our Voices Will Be Heard and They Don’t Talk Back at Native Voices, La Jolla Playhouse and Perseverance Theatre. Most recently, he was the composer and sound designer for Off the Rails at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Sovereignty at Arena Stage, The Thanksgiving Play at Artists Repertory Theater in Portland, OR, and Devilfish at Perseverance Theatre.

Josh Lowman (Online Presentation Designer) is a writer, director, actor, photographer, filmmaker, projection designer, and occasional manager. Credits include the indie films Standards of Karen, The Beekeepers, Paul and Bryant Make Out with Everybody, and Paul and Bryant Summon a Demon; Projection Design for Rush at Everlasting, The Mountaintop, Treadwell Gold, and The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity for Perseverance Theatre; writing and directing for the One-Minute Play Festival; and over 30 commercials over 30 years ago. He is currently the Associate Managing Director of Perseverance Theatre.

Jill Kaasteen Meserve (Shaa) is Lingít (Tlingit), Chookaneidí (Eagle Brown Bear clan) from Hoonah. Jill is a dedicated learner of the Tlingit language, and is a crafter of many kinds, particularly of beadwork and incorporating traditional methods into contemporary designs. She graduated from the University of Alaska Southeast with a BLA in Alaska Native Languages and Studies where she focused on learning the Tlingit language. Jill is now a Language Program Manager for Sealaska Heritage Institute.


Chris Schweiger (Stage Manager) has been working at CTC for 18 years, and most recently stage managed Spamtown, USA! Chris has worked with other companies in Minneapolis including The Ordway, Mixed Blood, the Guthrie Theater, Ragamala Dance, Theater Latté Da and Illusion. Chris has also worked with Perseverance Theatre Company in Alaska, Arena Stage in Washington, DC, Seattle Children’s Theatre, the Old Globe in San Diego, the New Victory Theater in New York City, the Alpine Theatre Project in Whitefish, Montana, the Utah Shakespeare Festival and the Moab Music Festival in Utah. She received her B.S. in Theatre from Northwestern University and was a Peace Corps Volunteer for three years in Mongolia.

Yeeskanaalx Tláa, Rochelle Smallwood (Costume Designer) (Tlingit) is an indigenous artist and visual storyteller. She is L'eeneidí (Raven Dogsalmon) from Yaxté Hít (Big Dipper House). She was born on her ancestral homelands in Aak' w Kwáan Aaní, Juneau, Alaska where she presently resides with her daughter, Solstice, Aántu, and her Grandmother, Liana Wallace, Sáni. She studied Fashion Design at Central Saint Martins in London and is pursuing her BLA focusing on Alaskan Native Studies & Languages and Art at UAS. Her work is inspired by the relationship between humans and the landscapes encompassing them as well as vintage film, music and fashion with a vibrant twist. Her work is a dance between the past and the present, reflecting modern times and themes while honoring her ancestors' traditions.

Kholan Studi (Wolves) was born and raised in Santa Fe, NM where he was first bitten by the acting bug. In 2012 he moved to Los Angeles, CA to attend the American Academy of Dramatic Arts to continue his studies. After graduating in 2015, Kholan has been a part of productions of They Don’t Talk Back by Frank Katasse at both Native Voices at the Autry and Perseverance Theatre and Bingo Hall by Dillon Chitto and Sovereignty by Mary Katherine Nagle at Marine Theatre Company. Kholan is honored and excited to be a part of this production.

Erin Tripp (Narrator) graduated from the University of Alaska Southeast, where she received a BLA in Theatre & Tlingit Language, and was named the Outstanding Graduate of the Liberal Arts. Afterwards, she completed an artistic internship at Perseverance Theatre. Erin's past roles include: Traditional Woman in William, Inc. by Lucas Rowley, Kutaan in Our Voices Will Be Heard by Vera Starbard, Sweet Tea in the road weeps, the well runs dry by Marcus Gardley, Titania in a Gwich'in language production of A Midsummer Night's Dream at Fairbanks Shakespeare Theatre, and Aanteinatu in Devilfish by Vera Starbard. Offstage, Erin was a narrator for Penguin Randomhouse's audiobook of 'The Smell of Other People's Houses' by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock, which won Audiofile Magazine's Earphones Award. Currently, she is splitting her time between Richmond, VA and Juneau.

Jake Waid (Eagle) most recently appeared at Perseverance Theatre in Frank Katasse’s They Don’t Talk Back. Other credits include Sovereignty (Arena Stage) Twelfth Night (Shakespeare and Company); Cymbeline (Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival); Hamlet (Fairbanks Shakespeare Theatre); George Bonga: Black Voyageur (History Theatre); the road weeps, the well runs dry (Pillsbury House); Raven Odyssey, The Crucible, Moby Dick, and Genesis (Perseverance Theatre). He has also worked with La Jolla Playhouse, Native Voices at the Autry, Working Class Theatre and Marin Theatre Company. He studied at Cornish College and Freehold Actors Studio.