Exit, Pursued by a Bear - Pictured left to right are Mark Fairchild, Connor Branson (seated), Mattie Alexander, and Holly McNatt
One critic had described Lauren Gunderson’s play, “Exit, Pursued by a Bear,” as, “If the Coen Brothers decided to set a feminist revenge tale in Georgia and sprinkle it with Dixie Chicks pixie dust, it might look something like ‘Exit, Pursued by a Bear,’ a raucous comedy of friendship, domestic abuse, and performance-as-catharsis.”

In the play, Nan wants to teach her abusive husband, Kyle, a lesson. With the help of two friends, she duct tapes her husband to his easy chair to force him to watch as they reenact scenes from the couple’s painful past. Here to talk about “Exit, Pursued by a Bear” at Carpenter Square Theatre in this Performing Arts Q&A session is the director, Joe DiBello.

What five words would you use to describe Exit, Pursued by a Bear?
Funny, Original, Timely, Hopeful, did I mention Funny?

Exit, Pursued by a Bear - Pictured left to right are Holly McNatt, Mattie Alexander, and Mark Fairchild
Now, using more than five words, what’s it about?
It’s a feminist dark comedy, set in North Georgia, about a woman in an abusive marriage, who decides to take revenge on her husband by duct-taping him to a chair, covering him with honey and venison, and leaving him for the local bear population. She carries out her plan with the help of her gay best friend and a stripper with dreams of becoming an actress.

What are some unique aspects for your version?
“Our version is a multimedia experience that makes the audience wonder just how involved they might be in the story.”The title of the play comes from William Shakespeare’s most famous stage direction in THE WINTERS TALE, so the script calls for some of the stage directions to be projected on stage for the audience to see. I tried to take this concept to the next level by throwing in other theatrical elements which some viewers will notice and maybe others won’t, but I’m OK with that. Our version is a multimedia experience that makes the audience wonder just how involved they might be in the story.

What was the biggest challenge with this production?
By far, it has been the multimedia design elements.

What scenes or moments stand out to you that make the play worth showing to people?
One scene shows the courtship of the couple, KYLE and NAN, so the audience can see how and why NAN fell in love with KYLE in the first place; showing that he wasn’t always the abusive man he appears to be. The other is a scene depicting the moment when NAN decides it’s time to leave KYLE, but I won’t give that away. You’ll have to come see it!

If you were duck taped to a chair to watch parts of your life reenacted, what would that be like?
I think it would be a bit terrifying, but also somewhat educational to see how my loved ones see my actions. I’m sure there would be scenes that made me proud, and perhaps others that were less honorable. I think everyone can relate to that.

Kyle (Connor Branson) and Nan (Mattie Alexander) recall a perfect day before their relationship turned sour
Why should one see Exit, Pursued by a Bear?
While the subject of domestic abuse is no laughing matter, this play adds a spin that keeps the mood light, providing lots of laughs for the audience. But I also hope it generates discussion and perhaps provides a small sense of catharsis for those who may have been affected directly or indirectly by an abusive relationship.

Why would one not want to see it?
Parents should use discretion in bringing children to the show, because it does include adult language. Other than that, I can’t think of a reason!

Anything else you want people to know?
Be prepared to laugh!

Specific performance dates and times over four weeks are:
8 p.m. June 26-27
7:30 p.m. July 2
8 p.m. July 3
***Note that there is no performance on Saturday, July 4.
7:30 p.m. July 9
8 p.m. July 10-11
2 p.m. July 12
7:30 p.m. July 16
8 p.m. July 17-18

“Exit, Pursued by a Bear” is supported in part by the Oklahoma Arts Council, National Endowment for the Arts, and Allied Arts. Steve and Maggie Dixon and Crown Heights Florists are Season Sponsors. Cast Sponsors for the production are Mel and Cindy Ables.

Regular adult tickets are $20 with $15 tickets available for seniors, military, and groups of ten or more. Student tickets are only $5. Reservations are recommended for the intimate 90-seat theater. Call 405-232-6500 for tickets. Visit www.carpentersquare.com for more information.

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Dennis Spielman

I'm Dennis Spielman, the Producer of Uncovering Oklahoma, which I started in 2009 as a way to show that Oklahoma isn't boring. As for about myself, I’m a creative person that writes imaginative stories. I also run The Show Starts Now Studios, which is my umbrella organization for all of my shows I create. Come join me on Patreon as I create content that adds adventure and wonder to peoples' lives. More about my stories and projects are at DennisSpielman.com