April 22nd, 2015
That’s right, it’s Week Three of The Winter Bear Bethel & Beyond tour. After a cozy five days in Bethel, the team headed back out west for our last three stops: Emmonak, Alakanuk, and Mountain Village. These towns are slightly smaller than the first leg (Hooper Bay, Chevak, and Scammon Bay), with populations of about 700-800 people each.
Week Three means a number of things among our 12-person crew:
- We’ve all eaten more granola bars than we can count.
- Forming sentences in the morning is proving challenging, especially since we’ve been duped by more than one teachers’ lounge coffee pot. The most recent culprit, in Emmonak, required some serious Macguyver-ing to prove functional.
- Just about every person on the crew is suffering from one ailment or another, from sore backs to bruised knees to a nasty headcolds. Emergen-C is flowing freely.
Amidst these petty on-the-road trifles, it’s easy to forget how incredibly fortunate we are to be in these communities telling our story. Most of the students with whom we interact have never experienced live theater before.
We blaze through these towns, throw up our set, sleep, teach, perform, and take it all down again, never sure if our small contribution will have the impact for which we are striving. Monday night in Emmonak, I was reminded in a very small way that we are doing our part when a shy tenth grader approached me after the show asking if there was someone she could talk to. The Winter Bear team arranges to have local behavioral health aides available at each performance, in case suicide and other intense images in the play bring up issues for audience members. I was really impressed that this young lady approached me, a total stranger, to help her connect with the right person.
We can’t know exactly what impact The Winter Bear will have on communities, but the interactions we are fortunate enough to have with students during our short visits give me hope. Pass the granola bars, please!
~Sarah Mitchell (Raven/Assistant Producer)