Trying to adapt the format to a traditional theater seems ridiculous, game-moving through different landscapes, clever avoidance of trackers, and genre demands when production and audience are trapped. How simulating the heightened tension is commonplace for a limited number of people time? How the main message and theme are delivered by using figurative characters and symbolism? These are the questions that arose while reading the play script.
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Matthew MacKenzie’s “Bears” is a short story of a man running in the wilderness of western Canada. Thanks to Mackenzie’s stunning production and Monica Dot’s ingenious choreography, it was a really fun night at the theater. Doctor transforms an ensemble of eight dancers into flora and fauna of Alberta and British Columbia, including a grizzly bear detective who hits salmon from the river. At some point, she may even be poetically reminiscent of sexual intercourse. However, the Bears are just a little more than strangely adorable bestiality.
Edmonton’s show, “Bears”, which is currently touring the Theater Center, has accomplished this incredible feat by combining a fire of innovation, humor, and political dedication. The movie’s main character, Floyd (Sheldon Elterre), is an indigenous oil sands worker who fled the west after an industrial accident in which he was the main suspect. The events of this accident and the role of Floyd in it will be revealed in the course of the 75-minute game.
Playwright and director Matthew MacKenzie wrote the work of a third party as follows: “If Floyd liked something, it was a bear,” says Elter, the man he portrays. The story is shared by a chorus of eight dancers who are constantly moving to various elements of the natural environment where Floyd roams with a rather lazy commentary on the plot-and this is where ingenuity actually begins to work.
The political and ethical themes of the production also revolve around the relationship between Floyd and nature. Mackenzie’s play explores the ancestors of his family, Cree, Ojibwe, and Metis, and his script contains examples of indigenous wisdom. Floyd experiences a physical makeover while traveling. He claims to be hairy and bulky and eventually makes an amorous encounter with a female grizzly bear in the coastal highlands of British Columbia.
If you suggest that he is transforming into a bear, you overlook the fact that he was already a bear. His mom calls him a “little boy.” One of the first things we learned about him was that he loves to roll with a brush and eat berries. Out of the oil sands and along the Trans Mountain pipeline route, he embraces aspects of his non-human animals and emphasizes the indigenous beliefs of all beings and the continuity of nature.
The ambient design made by T. Erin Gruber also conveys this. Large fabric background decorated with white notches in the mountain landscape. The character’s close and symbiotic interaction with nature are accentuated by the performer’s movements through these stage elements, and the colorful projection of light transforms the character into another environment (Frey and Vogler 2018). The diverse soundscapes of Nordine Musani also contribute to this. The unmasked purpose of this work is to show how the extraction of raw materials devastates nature and has devastating consequences.
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Floyd opposes the destructive and dangerous nature of this behavior and is therefore plagued by the power of mainstream social power. Floyd’s story is a typical hero’s self-discovery journey, and Metis actor Elter is characterized by both emotional and physical expressiveness. Frederick maintains a calm and safe stage presence, and the reason she only occasionally intervenes is the details of the plots added to the play’s theme and message.
Frey, Jennifer A, and Candace Vogler. Self-Transcendence and virtue: Perspectives from philosophy, psychology, and theology, 2018. Routledge. Web.
MacKenzie, Matthew. 2018. Bears.