The New Colony, 2011 Broadway In Chicago Emerging Theatre Award- recipient, is proud to announce the world premiere of The Bear Suit of Happiness. Written by Associate Artistic Director Evan Linder (FRAT, The Warriors, 11:11, 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche) and directed by company member Sean Kelly (Pancake Breakfast), The Bear Suit of Happiness runs February 28 - March 30, 2013. Tickets are $20, with student and industry discounts available. The production runs Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm and Sundays at 2 pm. The official press opening is on Friday, March 1 at 7:30 pm. Tickets go on sale today and may be purchased at 773.413.0TNC (0862) or at thenewcolony.org.
Created through The New Colony's unique devised process of improvisation and character workshops, The Bear Suit of Happiness takes place in 1943 and follows Woody, a young gay American, who enlists in the army. : "Put up a show to entertain the men. Keep it simple. Needs music. And they like drag." Woody becomes a one-man war. He fights to write a show worthy of his fellows' last laughs. Torn between fantasy and reality, his silly camp show grows to be a dream of an impossibly hospitable world. Theatre of war and theatre of the mind play out together on Woody's little stage as he battles to build an identity and to be free.
By building on The New Colony's established strengths of exposing overlooked communities in a fully immersive style, the audience will take on the role of World War II soldiers, watching the theatrical creations of the Bear Suit's protagonist. While The New Colony has previously asked audience members to invest in a story's characters in this way, the world created and the story that weaves through it will feel wholly unique as this original work is inspired by true but little known events of WWII. Without war the lives of Bear Suit's four characters would have never been brought together, but now that they've all landed on the same Pacific Island they begin to write the first rules of a gay culture and work to establish an identity in a way that all audience members, regardless of sexual orientation, will identify with. The Bear Suit of Happiness, written by Evan Linder, will be presented at the Dank Haus German American Cultural Center in Chicago's Lincoln Square neighborhood, the same venue where the wildly successful 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche began its life - a show also penned by Linder.
In order to continue strengthening the world of The Bear Suit of Happiness, The New Colony will play host to two public events in service to this world premiere play and its themes. First, the play development process will be opened to the community with a public reading of Bear Suit on Wednesday, January 30th at 7:30 at the Dank Haus in Lincoln Square. Following the reading, a feedback session will take place in order to solicit the reaction of the audience in order to inform changes in the script before opening night. Second, on Thursday, February 7th at 7 pm The New Colony will partner with Pride Films and Plays at Do Ask, Do Tell an exploration of Queer history in the military. Through their upcoming world premiere productions of The Bear Suit of Happiness and Under A Rainbow Flag this one night only collaborative event will allow audiences to get a sneak peek at both shows, take part in a panel discussion examining the shows' themes, and experience the transformation of drag. The event will be hosted by The Qu.co's Tony Soto at the Dank Haus.