Those looking for something to do away from the low temperatures may look to the theatre this month.
The Forest Roberts Theatre will be premiering their second play of the year, “Bears,” from Wednesday, Nov. 14 to Saturday, Nov. 17.
“Bears,” which was written by Mark Rigney, tells the story of Growl Bear and Timmy Bear, two friends who have lived in an abandoned zoo for most of their lives.
According to Ansley Valentine, director of the Forest Roberts Theatre, the play is essentially devoid of humans.
“[‘Bears’] happens after some apocalyptic event has occurred …clearly, there are very few people around,” Valentine said.
Growl and Timmy’s lives continue like this until they meet another bear named Suzie, who convinces them to leave captivity and to explore the world outside their cage.
Despite the fact that it hasn’t been officially presented to the public yet, “Bears” has already received quite a bit of critical acclaim.
The play won NMU’s Panowski Playwriting Competition, a biannual writing contest put on by the theatre to discover aspiring playwrights. Panowski-winning plays are given a full production by NMU, which is how “Bears” found its way to the stage.
The first performance of “Bears” has been in the works for quite a while, said Nikke Nason, box office manager for the Forest Roberts Theater.
“We actually workshopped this production last spring,” Nason said. “The playwright came to town and the dramaturg also came to town, and they did a read-through of the play.”
Rigney used feedback from the event to help him revise and edit the story, a process which resulted in the final script used in NMU’s full production.
Since this will be the very first time “Bears” will be done as a full play, the cast and crew have had to deal with some unique challenges, said senior theatre major Courtney Brown, who is also working as the production stage manager.
“It’s awesome to work with a director, especially a guest director, on an original production, one that’s never been performed before,” Brown said. “It’s fun to go through the learning and creating process.”
The cast has had some unique challenges to deal with, as well, Brown said. The show’s actors had the hardest job, with taking bear behavior and translating it to human behavior, but still being bears, Brown said.
Shane Vincent, a junior and theater major who plays the role of Timmy Bear, said the production has been enjoyable.
“The show itself is just a very fun play to be in,” Vincent said.
While NMU will be home to the first performances, the success of “Bears” won’t be contained to the Upper Peninsula. Rigney’s play will be making its off-Broadway debut next March through 59E59 Theaters and Sans A Productions.
Tickets are $5 for students with an ID and $15 for the general public, and are available at NMU EZ Ticket outlets.
The play starts at 7:30 p.m. in the Forest Roberts Theatre. For more information , call the box office at (906) 227-2553.