Beth Woolley in Bear Girl

Bear Girl

Bear Girl
By JC Luxton

Directed by Cait Bodenbender

Show Dates: 2013

Friday, June 14 (8:00 PM)
Saturday, June 15 (8:00 PM)
Sunday, June 16 (2:00 PM Matinee)
Thursday, June 29th (8:00 PM)
Friday, June 21 (8:00 PM)
Saturday, June 22 (8:00 PM)

Part of the Prenzie Players New Works Series.

Bear Girl, daughter of a Sauk chief, burns with the certainty her mother still lives as a prisoner of her people’s enemies.  After hearing a young man urging war, she begins manipulating family and friends to promote him as a leader, instigating an epic struggle for control of the Midwest.  

A world premiere written by Prenzie co-founder JC Luxton, Bear Girl is a story of women and war and the young man who will become Black Hawk.

Bear Girl was first performed by Prenzie Players at QC Theatre Workshop on June 14, 2013.  The production was directed by Cait Bodenbender; the field recordings and soundscapes were by Terry Skaggs, bird and beaver taxidermy were by Merideth Nepstad, fight choreography and weapon construction were by Aaron Sullivan, and the lighting design was by William Scot Grecco Bray; the stage manager was Chris Sanders-Ring.  The cast was as follows:

Cole McFarren 
Yellow Thunder

Angela Rathman  
Water Lynx
The Venerable Woman of the Eagle Name

Beth Woolley       
The Venerable Woman of the Fish Name
Already Fish
Peeks Her Head Out

Maggie Woolley   
The Venerable Woman of the Bear Name
Molting Feather
a Down Below warrior
Singing Bird
White Bear

Jake Walker  
The Venerable Woman of the Thunder Name
Black Falcon
a Down Below warrior

Jarrod DeRooi  
The Venerable Woman of the Fox Name
Shining Shoulder
a Down Below warrior

Jeremy Mahr 
The Venerable Woman of the Groundnut Name
Blessinghouse Man

Andy Lord
The Venerable Woman of the Wolf Name
White Feather
Swing Round Towards Me

Becky Wren
Flying Over
The Venerable Woman of the Buffalo Name

Matt Moody
The Venerable Woman of the Beaver Name
Swollen Hand

Jen Brown     
Bear Girl

The following persons provided either housing, nourishment, or support; offered wise critiques of earlier drafts; or endured persistent and niggling questions concerning minutiae:

Michelle Baugher, Stephanie Burrough, Kelly Collins, Kate Farence, Ives Goddard, Sara James-Childers, Danger Jarratt, Andy Koski, John & Sheryll Luxton, Jeb Makula,Catie Osborne, Dave Post, Regina Schantz, Tracy Skaggs, Helen Hornbeck Tanner, Hynden Walch

Beth Carvey & the Hauberg Museum at Black Hawk State Park

Tyson Danner & QC Theatre Workshop

Preston Duncan & the Meskwaki Nation

Stella Nullake & the Sac-Fox Nation

Regina Tsosie, Larry Lockwood, & the Native American Coalition of the Quad Cities

Preview QC Times

The Bear Facts
by David Burke

Before J.C. Luxton began writing a play about the Sauk warrior Blackhawk, he spent a week compiling a list of what he didn’t want the piece to be.

“I made a huge list,” he said. At the top were “no stereotypes” and “not boring.”

Now, six years and seven drafts since he began writing it, his play is ready to be seen.

The Prenzie Players, which Luxton co-founded, will stage his original work, “Bear Girl,” beginning next weekend at the Quad-Cities Theatre Workshop.

It’s the first time an original piece has been staged by the Prenzies, who have specialized for 10 years in sometimes-offbeat tellings of Shakespeare, Greek tragedies and other classics.

“It’s totally different than Shakespeare, but it’s definitely poetic theater, so it’s right in there with our mission,” said Cait Bodenbender, another of the founders of the Prenzies and the director of “Bear Girl.”

Luxton began working on “Bear Girl” in 2005, after a Quad-City-based novel he had begun to write hit a dead end.

“I didn’t really have a historical context for what was happening now,” said Luxton, 44, a native of Davenport and a Central High School graduate.

So he dug into the history of the area during Blackhawk’s time in the 1780s, something he thinks is underappreciated.

“It seems to me there’s this weird amnesia in the Midwest,” he says, “where we don’t pay attention to our history or own it or think that it matters very much.”

Luxton found what’s considered a rare item, Blackhawk’s autobiography. “This is the story of his youth. It begins when he is about 15 and ends when he’s about 35.”

However, “I didn’t want to tell Blackhawk’s story from his perspective,” he added. “We already have that. Why compete with the autobiography when there might be another way of telling that story?”

He found that way through the perspective of women, an approach that had not been attempted.

The title character lived in the same time as Blackhawk and was about the same age, Luxton said. It is based on a real woman who did not make herself known until she was in her 60s.

The title role is played by Jen Brown, an Iowa City actress in her first Prenzie role. Cole McFarren, a veteran of several Prenzie shows, plays Blackhawk. And Becky Wren plays Bear Girl’s friend, Flying Over.

Bodenbender, directing her seventh Prenzie show, said “Bear Girl” isn’t far removed from the rest of the company’s repertoire.

“It’s a very different play than Shakespeare,” she said. “For the most part, we usually do classic works. But we’re people who really like new ideas. Our mission is as a troupe that produces poetic theater.”

Luxton is the unofficial assistant director and has not asked for any changes in Bodenbender’s direction.

“I highly approve of how bold she’s been,” he said. “If I had been the director, I might not have been as brave as she has, and I appreciate that.”

Luxton said he had no desire to direct the play, nor act in it.

Prenzie’s 2013-’14 schedule is already set, with Shakespeare’s “Two Gentlemen of Verona” and “King Lear,” as well as the German legend “Faust.”

But that doesn’t mean there won’t be more original works in the future.

“It would be great if more poetic theater would show up on our doorstep,” Bodenbender said, adding that she had faith in Luxton.

“But I don’t know that mounting a show that has no precedent is something we’re going to be up for every year.”

“We are committed to poetic theater, whatever that may mean. You can take poetic in terms of language or in terms of imagination or staging,” said Luxton, 44, a graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop who works as simulated medical patient and as the instructor of an  introduction to cinema class at Scott Community College.

“What we’re about really hasn’t changed, but we reserve the right to explore all open or closed doors around us,” he added.


Bear Girl’ holds its own with classic Prenzie works

QC Times Review
David Burke
Prenzie Players’ newest, “Bear Girl,” has all of the hallmarks of the classics that are done by the 10-year-old company.

There’s the inventive staging, the too-close-for-comfort character proximity, representative costumes and props, bold fight scenes, incongruous dialogue and a penchant for big speeches.

But for the first time, this Prenzie show is locally set and the script comes from J.C. Luxton, one of the company’s founding parents.

Director Cait Bodenbender’s pacing and the performances by many of the actors give it as much creedence as Shakespeare or any of the classics the company has done.

And, like any shows Prenzie or other classic verse companies perform, I always feel an internal panic attack for the first 15-20 minutes, trying to figure out who’s whom on stage and the relationships amidst an overwhelming amount of dialogue.

But, as with the classics, the clouds eventually part and I sink into a compelling story, as is the case here.

The story of warrior Black Hawk, seen mainly through the eyes of the women who were left behind during battle, gives its audience equal amounts of history and entertainment.

Iowa City actress Jen Brown gives a forceful performance as the title character, fighting to rescue a captured mother that she believes is alive while standing up to her father and others in the village.

She holds her own with a cast of veteran and well-cast Prenzies, including Jeremy Mahr as her father, Matt Moody as the pontificating stranger Swollen Hand, Becky Wren as Bear Girl’s confidante, Andy Lord as a rambunctious tribesman, Cole McFarren as the eventual BlackHawk, Jake Walker as another warrior, and Beth Woolley and Maggie Woolley as teenage rivals.

Bodenbender’s direction is only a few times confusing, with various action and dialogue taking places at the same time on different stages, but effective at times such as the birth of a baby and the death of an elder simultaneously.

Four banks of bleacher-style seating are in place for the audience on the former grade school gym floor, and at least I felt a little too close for the action, with characters lurking at my side during blackouts and before their introductions.

Luxton’s script, where where nearly all the comic relief moments come from characters’ flatulence, shows his years of study on area history. I’m sure it took a lot of effort and sacrifice to bring it down to its approximately 2 1/2-hour running time (with two intermissions), but a little more judicious editing could be in order.

Likely one of the best locally written and staged works done by any company in the area, it holds its own with the already classic works that the Prenzies already perform.


QC Online
Prenzie premiere of ‘Bear Girl’ a roaring success

Review By Ashley Gomez

“Bear Girl” — a brand-new play — is a dynamic show performed by the talented Prenzie Players of Davenport.

It tells the tale of how Bear Girl, daughter of a Sauk chief, burns with the certainty her mother still lives as a prisoner of the Down Belows, her people’s enemies. A young man comes and talks of going to war, which gives Bear Girl the chance she needs to manipulate family and friends into taking action by promoting him as a leader, instigating an epic struggle for control of the Midwest.

Bear Girl’s rise to an important position of power also is illustrated, along with a young man’s journey to becoming Black Hawk, a faithful warrior highly admired by his people and feared by his enemies.

The actors capture the rigid life of the Native Indians and incorporate a raw interpretation of what life might have been like for them. The proud writer J.C. Luxton made sure to create as accurate a story as possible. Using information gathered through extensive research, he portrayed the story through the views of women, which is unlike many who have endeavored to peek into the lives of the native people. Viewers will be treated with action-filled battle scenes, inspirational speeches, personal insight to the fantastic mind of Bear Girl, and shocking revelations of the Indian lifestyle.

Jen Brown excels in portraying the strong-willed Bear Girl, with her powerful voice and acting. Her performance provides a sharp contrast with the other female characters as she demands the time and respect the women of that time were not thought to have deserved. All throughout the play, her people are coaxing her to quiet down and leave such matters as war to the men. She exemplifies the battle the women were in against the men, within their very own close-knit tribes.

While other women have strong personalities, only she prevails in letting hers guide her rather than smothering it into submission. Ms. Brown successfully masters her character’s fiery passion and ambition to be recognized as a smart, strong and mindful member of the tribe.

The other actors also do a wonderful job depicting their unique characters. Angela Rathman flawlessly plays Water Lynx, a feisty woman wise from age and experience. Jake Walker dominates in his role of Black Falcon, a prideful warrior pitted against more than the enemy nation, the Down Belows. Cole McFarren impressively encompasses Yellow Thunder’s relentless drive to achieve greatness in his tribe as a warrior. Maggie Woolley kicks her character Molting Feather into high gear with her spunky attitude and shocking behavior.

All the actors do a splendid job pulling together to bring to life Mr. Luxton’s historically inspired script.The show as a whole is a doozy, as it is made up of three acts and lasts about two and a half hours (with 10-minute intermissions between each act). Viewer discretion is advised as this is designed more for a mature audience; some scenes involve violence, a few characters use colorful language, and there is a stirring birth scene.

Nevertheless, it is an intriguing production that will have you laughing one moment and gazing with sorrow the next. A black box theater space is utilized, so the excitement is intensified as you watch up close and personal the events that unfold before your eyes.

In fact, each audience member receives information about his or her own character, a member of the Sauk nation, who is directly addressed during speeches and meetings. For anyone interested in experiencing this uniquely refreshing portrayal of Bear Girl’s life and of her people, be prepared for a riveting performance of bold acting.


Exit, Pursued by a Bear Girl: The Prenzie Players Stage a Debuting Native American Drama, June 14 through 22 at the QC Theatre Workshop

River Cities Preview
by Mike Schulz

The local theatre troupe the Prenzie Players is most commonly known for stylistically bold, occasionally gender-bending takes on classical dramas and comedies, principally the works of William Shakespeare. But the company is about to embark on a particularly challenging experiment with its forthcoming production of the debuting Bear Girl – and the play’s author, Prenzie co-founder J.C. Luxton, could hardly be accused of aiming too low.

“If you think of Shakespeare’s Henriad,” says Luxton, referencing the Bard’s historical trilogy of Richard II, Henry IV, and Henry V, “it’s kind of the epic of England. An epic story of who we are and how we came to be. And I think what I’m trying to do with Bear Girl is the beginnings of something similar for the Quad Cities area.”

A three-act period drama written in verse, and the Prenzies’ first foray into original work, Bear Girl explores both Native American and area history through a tale of warring nations, female empowerment, and the experiences of local icon and legendary Sauk leader Black Hawk. (The production will be staged at Davenport’s QC Theatre Workshop June 14 through 23.) Despite its weighty subject matter, however, both Luxton and director (and fellow Prenzie co-founder) Cait Bodenbender insist that Bear Girl isn’t nearly as intimidating or dry as the play’s synopsis might suggest.

“It may seem like I’m trying to be educational,” Luxton says, “but I’m really not. It’s more about telling a rip-roaring story. And it’s a very diverse show in terms of tone. There’s plenty of comedy, tragedy, music, a great fight sequence … .”

“It really does move through emotional states quickly,” adds Bodenbender. “You’re in one place and then – zing! – you’re someplace else. A second ago you were crying, and now you’re laughing because someone farted.”

Um … excuse me?

“Yeah,” says Luxton with a chuckle. “That’s in the script, too.”

Okay, so maybe he’s occasionally aiming a little low. But given its emphasis on exhaustively researched local history and the scope of its presentation – with 28 characters portrayed by a cast of 11 – Bear Girl is still a considerable challenge for the Prenzies, and one that its director believes fits perfectly with the group’s aesthetic.

“We’re people who love language and new ideas,” says Bodenbender, “and we mostly do poetic drama written in verse, and so it kind of made total sense to do this, you know?”


Steps of Regress

The idea for Bear Girl, says its author, began around 2005, after his completion of an as-yet-unpublished novel set in the Quad Cities circa 1999.

“It was the story of a community, in a way,” says Luxton of his book. “But I realized it existed in a sort of perfect present, without the weight of the past behind it, and I really wanted to learn where our community came from. Where the ‘now’ came from. So I started doing research.

“I had been really attracted to the story of George Davenport, so I began with that. But as I worked on the story of George Davenport, I realized I’d need to write about the Black Hawk War of 1832, so I began to incorporate that research. But then, because I didn’t know anything about Sauk Indians at that time, I realized I had to go back to the War of 1812 to make any sense of the Black Hawk War.

“And as I worked on all that for several years,” continues Luxton with a laugh, “I realized I had to go back even further – a whole generation, to Black Hawk’s youth, to really make sense of what happened in the War of 1812. So this all began with a series of steps of regress that kept taking me back and back and back, and finally to a place where I could begin.”

While researching Native American history in the Midwest, Luxton says that he began imagining Bear Girl’s central storyline – and the figure who would inspire his play’s title – while reading Black Hawk’s autobiography (eventually published in 1912), which found the Sauk leader’s words translated by the city of Davenport’s principal founder, Antoine LeClaire.

“I would say the first 15 pages of that autobiography were the core places it [Bear Girl]came from,” says Luxton. “He takes you from his becoming a man at 13 to about the age of 35. But the problem, for me, was that Black Hawk had already told his own story, and so I decided that the most interesting way to approach it was through the eyes of the women of the Sauk nation. You know, we have these kinds of stereotypes of Indian women as either ‘the drudge’ or ‘the princess,’ but the power of Sauk women was actually very interesting.”

Through Black Hawk’s autobiography and additional sources of research – including conversations with members of the Native American Coalition of the Quad Cities, Iowa City’s American Indian Student Association, and noted Meskwaki historian/storyteller Preston Duncan – Luxton discovered that while Sauk men were the warriors for their nation, “the land actually belonged to the women. The houses belonged to them. When there was a divorce, the woman would basically put all the man’s stuff outside her house and then he had to go live with his mom, because women owned the property.”

Women also occasionally served as the Sauk nation’s unofficial peace-keepers. “At the end of Black Hawk’s autobiography,” says Luxton, “there’s a reference to ‘the daughter of Mat-ta-tas.’ The whites are demanding that the Sauks leave the area, and the Sauks send their most important person to speak to the white general, and that’s this woman – the figure that I’m calling Bear Girl, since we don’t actually know her given name.

“So there was all this, and I, too, had lived through many years of a nation at war, although not from the perspective of a combatant. So I just thought, ‘Let’s tell the story of Black Hawk, but from the perspective of the people at home.’ You know, I didn’t want to do a typical war story where you’re following warriors off into strange territory – even though there is some of that here.”

According to Bodenbender, “The play is, in its most boiled-down form, the story of Bear Girl and her desire to have her nation [the Sauk] mobilized for war in an effective and kind of final manner. Her nation is engaged in skirmishes with another nation called the Down Belows, and she wants the men – one of whom is Black Hawk – to organize and defeat them and put an end to the war, mostly because she believes that her mother is a captive of the Down Belows. The play starts with Bear Girl at 15 years old, and shows how, through the next 20 years, she manipulates people and does what she has to do to help end the war.”

And in his telling of this tale, what Luxton consequently fashioned was a theatre piece that blended historical accuracy with literary invention – and one that the author anticipates will feel “simultaneously familiar and strange.

“Black Hawk himself, of course, is a character in the play,” Luxton says, “and his best friend Swing Round Toward Me and his wife Flying Over are based on characters in the autobiography. But there are also characters that I’ve completely made up, which I’ve done, like any playwright, to draw out certain characteristics of the protagonist. Since I’m telling Bear Girl’s story, I need to arrange everything exactly right so we can truly understand who she is and why she’s doing things the way she is. So I’ve mixed reality and fiction fairly freely.”

What Luxton hopes will result from the mixture is “a kind of local epic about the Sauk at the absolute height of their power. They and their allies the Meskwaki – who lived in what would be downtown Rock Island now – basically controlled the upper Mississippi River valley. This huge, huge homeland. So part of what I wanted to do was extend our historical sense of our own past further back than we’re used to taking it.

“There’s this sense here, I think, that either nothing important ever happened in the Midwest, or that what mattered maybe happened when someone’s Norwegian grandpa showed up in 1912, or something like that. We have an epic history, though. Anincredible history. But it isn’t only about white people.”


Keeping Things and Losing Things

In fitting with the presentation of the Prenzies’ first original production, Luxton and Bodenbender also took a somewhat novel approach in terms of the creative process: Actors were cast in January, but not in specific roles until two-and-a-half months into Bear Girl’s rehearsals.

“Because the script was still in development,” says Bodenbender, “we assembled a team of people to workshop it over the last few months. The idea was that everybody workshopping it would have a role, but I didn’t want anybody too attached to a particular role, because we were still making script decisions about keeping things and losing things.” (Asked if any cast members were disappointed by her final casting decisions, Bodenbender says, “I think everybody was fine. They played all sorts of parts in the beginning, but in the end, people kind of fell where they were supposed to, and where they were happy.”)

Bear Girl’s workshopping process actually began years before Bodenbender’s cast was assembled; Luxton states that the current version of his script is the sixth version he’s completed since 2011, the last three of which were similarly read aloud by actors prior to the making of revisions.

“The reason I want to tell a story is because I want to communicate a feeling,” says Luxton. “And so 90 percent of revisions come from a sense of ‘I’m not feeling what Ishould be feeling here.’ Like with this play, I’d think, ‘Maybe Bear Girl’s friend needs to challenge her.’ [Or] ‘Maybe that friend needs to disappear from the play.’ But you don’t really know those things until other people are embodying the characters, and you realize that you’ve either communicated the feeling of the moment, or the actor – for perfectly good reasons – is misinterpreting what you intended, and the moment doesn’t feel the way that it should.

“And if that’s the case,” says Luxton with a laugh, “that’s my fault, and I need to fix it. So while some things have stayed the same from earlier drafts, characters have been folded into each other, whole arcs have vanished, a giant battle scene has been added … . It’s a very helpful process.”

Bodenbender says that one thing that quickly became clear during Bear Girl’s workshopping was the notion that, unlike most Prenzie productions, this one would have to be performed without the company employing some of its typical methods.

“There’s no gender-switching in this,” says Bodenbender, whose previous directorial efforts for the Prenzies have found female actors Denise Yoder and Angela Rathman playing the male characters of A Midsummer Night’s Dream’s Quince and The Merchant of Venice’s Launcelot Gobbo. “Because Sauk society is so very gendered, it felt important – in order to represent the culture as accurately as we can – to keep men in male roles and women in female roles.”

“It’s a play about the power of women in a nation at war,” adds Luxton. “So having women play men made things very confusing.”

Workshopping also allowed Bear Girl’s cast members – among them Prenzie veterans Cole McFarren (as Black Hawk), Jeremy Mahr, Maggie Woolley, Beth Woolley, Andy Lord, Matt Moody, Angela Rathman, and Jarrod DeRooi – to add considerable creative input regarding everything from the narrative’s arc to character motivation to the invented “foreign language” spoken in the play.

“We have a couple of characters who are not Sauk,” explains Bodenbender, “so the other characters don’t understand them, and neither does the audience. But especially because we’re not Native Americans ourselves, we wanted to be very respectful in honoring the Native culture that we’re dealing with, and not try to mimic a language that we don’t have any real relation to. So Jen Brown, who plays Bear Girl and is a linguist from Iowa City, put together this chart of Native American syllables for the actors in those roles, so they could make up this new language. Their words are essentially nonsensical, but using specific syllables helps the actors get across the meaning in what they’re saying.

“The whole workshopping process was really, really collaborative,” Bodenbender says, “and that’s also carried over into our more regular script rehearsals, where there’s a lotof input from the cast. We’ve fostered an environment where opinions are really welcome.”

In addition to the contributions of the actors, Luxton says that Bear Girl’s production is also being enhanced by its original sound design. “We have Terry Skaggs working on an hour-long soundscape. He’s been overlaying completely natural outdoor sounds so that they come across as more intense than they would be in reality – like 12 hours of sounds over the course of an hour. That’s the kind of natural intensity I’m looking to surround the play with.

“I mean, I talk about history and that kind of thing,” says Luxton, “but in the end, Bear Girlshould really move the audience. For two hours, it should be thrilling and exciting and sorrowful and hilarious. It should be an emotional experience. It’s all about the feeling.”

Grin and “Bear” It: “Bear Girl,” at the QC Theatre Workshop through June 22
River Cities Reader Review
by Thom White

Playwright J.C. Luxton’s writing has a beautiful eloquence about it, with poetic word choices and graceful rhythms in his verse. And while I did not understand all of the finer details in the Prenzie Players’ Friday-night production of Luxton’s Bear Girl – due solely to my own shortcomings when it comes to dialogue delivered in verse – the themes and main plot points were clearly told, and also, thanks to director Cait Bodenbender’s treatment of the material, interesting, entertaining, and educational.

Luxton’s story centers on a young, headstrong girl named Bear Girl who challenges the traditional behaviors of her Native American nation. Following the capture of her mother by a rival nation known as the Down Belows, Bear Girl is set on rescuing her, certain that her mother is still alive despite her father’s dream suggesting otherwise. Defying the traditions of who is and isn’t allowed in certain council meetings, and who is and isn’t allowed to speak, Bear Girl sets into motion acts designed to retrieve her mother, the gods’ wishes be damned.

Luxton’s work possesses an unmistakable feel of authenticity, and Bear Girl actually feels like a small part in a larger story, as though there were an epic-event exterior to the proceedings and we’re merely seeing one group’s viewpoint and its influence on the greater scheme of things. Whether or not the details of the language, traditions, relationships, lineage, and hierarchy of the Native American people depicted here are historically accurate, they seem unwaveringly so because these elements are so meticulously wrought in Luxton’s script. Add Bodenbender’s choice of presenting the play in the round – with audience members seated in four groups and action taking place in front of and around them – and there’s a thrilling sense of being a true part of the Native Americans’ council meetings, battles, and encounters here, which makes for a lot of fun during the two-and-a-half hour presentation (including two intermissions). On top of that, further authenticity is provided by Bodenbender’s simple set design, with branches strategically strung together and hung from the ceiling to effectively mimic trees overhead, and by sound designer Terry Skaggs’ ever-present bird, wind, and other woodland noises.

Jen Brown impressively layers her Bear Girl with more thought than emotion, with her character’s mental workings clear in the performer’s looks of consternation, pondering moments, and efforts to come up with proper responses to those with whom she’s speaking. Bear Girl’s confidence is thoughtfully nuanced as she carefully weighs the advice given to her before either taking or ignoring it; she’s a vital young woman with fire in her belly, but it’s her wisdom that helps her calculate decisions, rather than run forward with guns-a-blazing.

Brown is supported by a Prenzie Players staple: a mixed cast of various but equally interesting talents with a commitment to dynamic presentation. Beth Woolley, Maggie Woolley, and Becky Wren are delightful when depicting the youthful, gossiping, tittering teens Already Fish, Molting Feather, and Flying Over, respectively. (Wren deserves special props for muting the buffoonery inherent in Luxton’s running flatulence gag, rendering Flying Over pitiable through Wren’s sincere shame and embarrassment whenever she breaks wind, which is often.) Cole McFarren, Jake Walker, and Andy Lord make admirable warriors, with palpable bravado in their depictions of Yellow Thunder, Black Falcon, and White Feather. Jeremy Mahr softens the patriarchal conviction of his Blessinghouse Man with just enough concern to layer the character without softening his mettle, while Matt Moody’s Swollen Hand is just slimy enough to be creepy without being a caricature. And Jarrod DeRooi impresses with his Shining Shoulder’s conflicted bluster mixed with an almost doting concern for his captured enemy-turned-wife.

It’s refreshing to see the Prenzie Players continue to branch out from their Shakespearean norm, especially when it involves an original work by one of its members, and by one as talented as Luxton. His Bear Girl is a worthy addition to the troupe’s history of exceptional productions of exceptional works, and hopefully, it won’t be the last play we’ll see by such a clear master of poetic storytelling.