Pyretic Productions, in association with Alberta Aboriginal Arts and the Rubaboo Festival, presents, as part of the Arts at the Barns Presentation Series


By Matthew Mackenzie

A multi-disciplinary comedy about the Northern Gateway Pipeline, Bears asks what the hell we think we're doing here in Wild Rose Country.

If there's one thing Floyd loves, it's bears. Maybe he'll take in an orphaned cub, maybe he'll hunt poachers, maybe he'll make art installations out of their shellacked droppings - it doesn't really matter so long as it involves bears. But as the prime suspect in a workplace accident, Floyd has to get out of town fast. Pursued relentlessly by the RCMP, he heads through the Rockies for Kitimat, B.C. By the time he reaches the Great Bear Rainforest, Floyd has experienced changes - his gait widening, his muscles bulging, his sense of smell heightening…


Through dramatic storytelling, an integrated five-person chorus, an immersive projection design, and a thrilling accompanying sound-scape, Bears features a wide range of top Edmonton talent. Sterling award winning actor and former rig worker Sheldon Elter carries this show. Supporting Floyd on his journey, transforming into the animals, people, and even elements he encounters, will be a chorus of five performers, choreographed by Artistic Director of Edmonton's Good Women Dance Collective Ainsley Hillyard. Underscoring Floyd’s journey will be an original soundscape by Dean Musani AKA DJ Phatcat, well-known in Edmonton’s electronic music scene, while critically acclaimed composer Bryce Kulak’s imaginative songs will punctuate the piece. Erin Gruber’s environmental design will transport winter weary Edmonton audiences into a summer scape.

Few issues facing Albertans are attracting as much attention as the Oil Sands and the proposed expansion of their exploitation. With the planned Northern Gateway Pipeline pumping bitumen west from the Capital Region, Bears seeks to increase dialogue about such a massive project in Edmonton.

In 1841 MacKenzie's great, great, great Grandmother Kisiskaciwan passed through Edmonton. For three days, as her party stocked up on supplies, she sat by the river—her namesake, and cried. An Englishman recorded in his account of the journey that Kisiskaciwan had the same veneration for the North Saskatchewan as those of the Hindu faith do for the Ganges. While MacKenzie does not self-identify as an Indigenous playwright, his aboriginal ancestry bubbles inside of him, and it is the above historical account that led him to write Bears.