Namron Players Theatre‘s newest Oklahoma StoryWorks project, “About a Bear,” premieres on YouTube at 7pm on Saturday, June 12.
The new piece is a collection of stories from Oklahomans, especially members of the Norman community, about going through something they never saw coming.
Inspiration for the show came from Norman poet David Slemmons.
Slemmons shared his bear story with Namron Artistic / Executive Director Sheryl Martin in 2019, before they had any clue when COVID-19 was coming, and pointed out that it was a story. that his daughter loved to hear him tell.
And with that, a new Oklahoma StoryWorks project was created. Oklahoma StoryWorks is a documentary theater program, presented at the Namron Players Theater by Martin, that creates an original play based on Oklahoma stories.
Does the show talk about the pandemic? Yes, said Martin, but it’s more than that. Martin found out when she started asking people to talk about the “bears” they’ve faced over the past 18 months as life goes on, even in isolation.
Martin has spent the past 15 months trying to maintain, and even build, relationships with the Namron audience and the Norman community on the internet. She and her administrative team, Managing Director Norman Hammon and Treasurer Kym Bracken, took the reins from Namron founder Sarah King Bartell in January 2019. The company was in the process of preparing a new documentary, “Lunch Box “, for repeat when COVID-19 hit in March 2020.
“A lot of the smaller arts organizations weren’t really in a position to say, ‘Hey, we’re just going to sit down this season. “We needed to do shows, we wanted to tell stories and offer workshops – we build on the audience that we inherited from Sarah,” Martin said. “The rest of the world was looking to Zoom. We did it too.
To meet this challenge, Martin chose a company among the best professional actors in Oklahoma. Actors Kathy Kelly Christos, Rick Lockett, Sue Ellen Reiman, Jane Gibbons and Terry Veal bring the stories of “About A Bear” to life in the production. Many of these actors also appeared in “Lunch Box” in 2020 and the NAMRON New Plays series in February this year.
Community actress Moira Mosely, who has appeared on both “Lunch Box” and the New Plays series, was a production assistant on “About A Bear”. Beck Bales, who appeared on the New Plays series, and Jeremy Bales provided off-camera vocals that turned into on-camera cameos.
Martin can’t wait to find a live audience.
“We look forward to attending 24 Hour Plays at the end of July,” said Martin. “People will get together on a Friday night to talk about the kind of plays they always wanted to do. The playwrights will work overnight to create three or four short plays, and on Saturday we’ll rehearse and perform those plays – a world premiere, one night only.
For more information on “About A Bear,” visit the Namron Players Theater Facebook page, where the premiere will also air at 7 p.m. on June 12, or on namronplayerstheatre.org.