BON IVER FIGHTS A BEAR: A Folk Music Fantasia Comes To Philly Fringe
Two of Orbiter 3's co-founders have teamed up to bring an outrageous new play to this year's Philadelphia Fringe Festival: BON IVER FIGHTS A BEAR. A fantasia based on the true story of musician Bon Iver writing his seminal debut album from a secluded cabin in the winter woods. BON IVER FIGHTS A BEAR turns this legend on its ear by telling the story "though the eyes of a crazy fucking grizzly bear who thinks Bon Iver's music sucks."
Director Maura Krause and playwright Douglas Williams have reunited to bring this hilarious story to life. "We're both music obsessives, and the story behind Bon Iver's first album is a modern music legend, so we've been pretty keen to create a play inspired by it for a while."
But while parsing through the tall tales and research of what went on that winter, Williams stumbled upon a little-known story that peaked both their interests. "Supposedly one day, Justin Vernon (a.k.a. Bon Iver) was on the porch of this cabin making stew, when a huge bear snuck up on him and stole his pot of food." This small anecdote set the whole play into motion. "It all fell into place. We figured, if we're really trying to tell this story in the most outrageous way possible, we gotta have this talking bear narrate it and sort of call bullshit on the mythology of the whole thing."
Another curveball to this retelling? Bon Iver will be played by Emily Schuman donning a "dirty hipster beard." As Krause puts it, "Bon Iver's story - this broken-hearted and secluded man creating a work of brilliance, falls so squarely in the 'tortured male genius' narrative. Honestly, I think it's a huge part of why the legend of this album initially caught on with people. So with this play, we want to explore and poke fun at that very prevalent trope. Casting Emily in the role of Bon Iver puts a whole new lens on the story and frees us up to challenge that dynamic head-on."
In 2014, Krause and Williams came together with four other playwrights to form Orbiter 3, Philadelphia's first playwrights producing collective. This past June, after adding two more writers and completing their mission of producing seven world premiere productions in just three years, Orbiter 3 dissolved as a company.
BON IVER FIGHTS A BEAR marks Krause and Williams' third collaboration and the launch of their new company: maura ampersand doug. "Now that we completed our mission with Orbiter 3, we're free to make work however we feel like." says Krause. "For the last three years we've been spending so much of our time and energy on the administrative duties required to make the Orbiter machine run. Doug and I went into Orbiter knowing we had a strong artistic partnership and coming out of it we're just chomping at the bit to start creating theater together again." Williams agrees, "With Orbiter 3 being such a large undertaking, it's really exciting to launch a smaller company that can create work in a down and dirty kind of way. Work that just screams 'Fringe.'"
BON IVER FIGHTS A BEAR will also feature the talents of doug greene (as the bear, of course) and will be performed at The Art Church of West Philadelphia from Sept 7 - 17th as a part of the Philadelphia Fringe Festival.