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Interview with the cast and director of the upcoming play Exit, Pursued by a Bear

Exit Pursued by a Bear. poster
ENMU Theatre Department
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Exit Pursued by a Bear. poster

STEFFENS: Welcome to Great Arts at Eastern. I’m David Steffens, Dean of the College of Fine Arts. Today we preview the upcoming theatre production Exit Pursued by a Bear. Written by Lauren Gunderson, Exit Pursued by a Bear will be presented four times this week: Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, each at 7:00 PM and then Sunday matinee at 2:00 PM. All those performances are in the University Theater Center. Today I'm joined by Doctor Ann Beck, who is a professor of theatre but also the Director of this particular production. Welcome, Doctor Beck.

BECK: Thank you. Thank you so much for having me

STEFFENS: Exit Pursued by a Bear. That's an unusual title. It sounds more like you're telling me what to do and not the sort of normal title that I'm expecting. What is that all about? What does it mean?

BECK: Well, you know, it’s. So, it's a very famous stage direction of Shakespeare from his play The Winter’s Tale. And one of the characters in the play has to, he's actually a good character. But he has to leave a baby on a- on a rock, and he has to be taken out there by boat, and as he's placing the baby on the rock. The boat leaves without him. And so, the stage direction is Exit, Pursued by a Bear, and we never see him again. So, it's our playwright Lauren Gunderson has written many plays that are in sort of response to Shakespeare, and this is one of those plays. And the play. Well, it's about; actually, it's about a housewife who has had it with the domestic abuse. That endured by, you know, her husband meeted out by her husband, and so she ties him to a chair with duct tape to his recliner and puts down honey and steaks to lure the Bears to actually to teach him the lesson,

STEFFENS: That’s a bit of a commentary on domestic violence.

BECK: It is. It’s a revenge comedy because she actually, what she’s doing with some friends is acting out scenes from their marriage to show him the- the badness of his ways. And maybe if he if he actually learned something, maybe she will release him,

STEFFENS: And perhaps delivered as a comedy, the audience can get a bit closer to the subject. It might be difficult to take it in as a more dramatic work.

BECK: That's right, it's a revenge comedy, and it's a lot of- a lot of fun with a serious undertone.

STEFFENS: Great. And what- what kind of audience would be appropriate? Is this a PG13 sort of guidance?

BECK: No, I think because of the theme of domestic violence and because of there’s a lot of language in the play, it’s probably for a more mature audience.

STEFFENS: Great.

BECK: Yeah.

STEFFENS: We’re also joined today by two students who are involved in this production, Israel Stacy and Mika. And welcome. First of all,

STACY: Thank you for having us.

MIKA: Thank you.

STEFFENS: And tell us a little bit about your involvement. What’s challenging about this particular work? Why do you enjoy it? How’s it going?

STACY: So, I play Kyle inside of the show, and he is the abuser inside the show. So that's just a very different mindset than I'm used to playing inside of shows. So, the challenge with that has just been getting into that character and figuring out how to make them still relatable in the midst of all the abuse that they do- do to Nan.

STEFFENS: So, it’s a bit serious psychologically to get inside of it.

STACY: Yeah, Yeah, absolutely.

STEFFENS: Interesting way to learn the acting skill. I suppose.

STACY: Yes, it is.

STEFFENS: And Mika, tell us about your involvement and- and how you find this and is it- it's interesting to you and which ways.

MIKA: So, I play Nan Carter, and I think she is the one that is getting the abuse. And for me, it's- it's very interesting to play because, you know, obviously, it's easier said than done. Oh, you should just leave them. So, learning the idea of. Why? It's so hard to leave someone that you're just so in love with, even though it's causing so much emotional, mental and physical abuse. But it's been challenging, to say the least, to figure out the balance of yes, I need to leave, but also, like you can't forget the love that you once had.

STEFFENS: Very good. Thanks for sharing your experience today. So again, Exit, Pursued by a Bear is this week with four performances Thursday evening at 7:00, Friday evening at 7:00, Saturday evening at 7:00, and then the Sunday matinee at 2:00. O'clock. Admission is $10, seniors and active military are $7.00 for admission, and ENMU students enter for free with an ID. And we hope to see you there.

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  • Join ENMU College of Fine Arts Dr. David Steffens each week on "Great Arts at Eastern," as he interviews artists, actors, entertainers and musicians about their craft and events they produce at Eastern New Mexico University in Portales. "Great Arts at Eastern" airs once a week about 12:35 p.m. MT on Thursdays on KENW–FM.This program also is available online by clicking the title of an individual episode listed below.