Kalskag Grizzlies

We were so busy, it was hard to keep up with blogging at each location!  But I would be remiss if I didn’t recount our visit to Upper and Lower Kalskag.  We stayed at George Morgan Senior High School, Home of the Grizzles!  How appropriate.  The high school is located in the center of the two villages, and each site has a population of about 200-250.


We were delighted to see another mural by artist Kevin G. Smith up at the school. Kevin has created several of these murals celebrating each community’s unique history.


As we were flying into Kalskag, our pilot mentioned Kalskag Hill and encouraged us to have a local drive us up to the top.  We followed suit, and took in a glorious view of both the Yukon and the Kuskokwim River Valleys.  At Kalskag, these two important rivers are the closest together they ever get (about 50 miles apart).

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Stage Manager Kadey and Actor David with the Kuskokwim behind them.


David and I thought the stellar view was worth a celebratory jump!

We are never sure how the audience turnout will be for a given show, but people really started to pour in for the potluck! The school cook spent the entire day preparing moose pasta and other dishes, and all told it was QUITE a spread.



Hungry animals Aurora (Lynx) and David (Wolverine)!

Hungry animals Aurora (Lynx) and David (Wolverine)!

We ate to our hearts content and then the actors headed to the “Green Room” (in this case a weight room near the gym) to get ready for the show.


Tons of kids in the audience!









Actress Misty (Miranda) chatted at length with an elder after the performance.



We were honored to be able to perform for the people of Upper and Lower Kalskag. Thanks for coming out!



Bethel, Home of the Warriors

The Winter Bear Project’s 2016 Kusko tour is well underway!  We just enjoyed three days in Bethel, Alaska, a major hub of about 6,000 people on the Lower Kuskokwim River.  We’ll be working our way upriver throughout this tour.


The Kuskokwim on our Bethel to Aniak flight.

Bethel Regional High School has an enrollment of about 500, so there is LOTS going on at the school!  Wrestling, Running practice, Student Council, and even a Health class program where kids have to take care of fake infants for a few days (that made us do some double-takes…)!


Mornings are HARD.

Photo by Brían Wescott.

Photo by Brían Wescott.


Packed matinee for the high schoolers.

We performed on Tuesday and Wednesday for high school and middle school respectively.  The young audiences were right there with us, laughing along and feeling the heavier parts of the play as well. Following each performance, we had a talkback with the cast.

Questions included:

  • “Do the animals get sweaty in their costumes?”
  • “Does the villain ever get attacked in real life?”
  • “Why doesn’t Lynx speak?”
Actors giggling during the question and answer session.

Actors giggling during the question and answer session.

With the high school group, the conversation went a bit deeper.  A student asked if we had ever encountered suicide, and we shared that almost everyone on stage has lost a loved one in this tragic way. Actor Brían Wescott mentioned how in Sidney Huntington’s early days, suicide was practically unheard of.  The cast agreed that talking openly about our struggles can help the healing process.

Actors led student workshops in theater games.  Following these laughter-filled sessions, a teacher remarked, “I haven’t seen that many smiles and that much participation in months.” The power of the arts at work!

Photo by Ryan Fuhrig

Pick me! Pick me!  Photo by Ryan Fuhrig


Getting our drama freak on.

After a few days of hard work and lots of fun, it’s onward to Aniak!


~Sarah Mitchell, Associate Producer


Announcing our Spring 2016 Kusko Tour

March 4, 2016

For Immediate Release:

FAIRBANKS, AK — The Winter Bear Project, Southcentral Foundation and Drew’s Foundation will present The Winter Bear, a play by former Alaska Writer Laureate Anne Hanley, in the communities of Nenana, Bethel, Aniak, Kalskag, Nikolai, and McGrath. Admission to all shows is free.

TWBP Kusko 2016 Flyer Final

The play, which has been performed for enthusiastic audiences in 32 Alaska communities, tells the story of a troubled Alaska Native teenager who decides suicide is his best option until Athabascan elder Sidney Huntington shows him how to use traditional culture to work through his despair and find his true voice. The Winter Bear Project is built around the play, but it also provides school workshops in the performing arts and Behavioral Health support through its non-profit partners. The mission of The Winter Bear Project is to “change the climate of fear & hopelessness that breeds suicide by broadening awareness, stimulating dialogue, and promoting healing through the performing arts.”

The show is directed by Tom Robenolt with Technical Direction by James Bartlett. The company features Alaska Native actors Brían Wescott as Sidney Huntington, Isaiah Juneby Potts as Duane, Misty Nickoli as Miranda Huntington, Jake Waid as Victor Sam, David Leslie as Wolverine, Aurora Lewis as Lynx, and Skyler Ray-Benson Davis as Wolf. Alaskan actor Jasmine Stokes plays Raven.

Major funding for The Winter Bear Project’s 2016 Kusko Tour is provided by Southcentral Foundation and the Alaska Department of Health & Social Services. Other sponsors include: the Lower Kuskokwim School District, the Harper Arts Touring Fund, and Drew’s Foundation. Communities are providing valuable in-kind in the form of lodging, show venues, and local services. Special thanks to in-kind sponsors Northern Air Cargo and Air/Land Transport, as well as airline partners Ryan Air, Pen Air, and Tanana Air.

**Click Here to download a pdf of the Flyer**

**Click here to download the press release**

This program was funded in part by grant number 1U79SM061769-01 from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The Winter Bear was made possible with funding by Rasmuson Foundation through the Harper Arts Touring Fund, and is administered, under contract, by 
the Alaska State Council on the Arts.

For more information about The Winter Bear Project, visit our website at www.winterbearproject.com or follow us on Facebook at The Winter Bear Project.

The Winter Bear Project's 2015 Bethel & Beyond Tour.

The Winter Bear Project’s 2015 Bethel & Beyond Tour.