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Lee Street theatre presents ‘Exit Pursued by a Bear’

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Lee Street theatre will present “Exit Pursued by a Bear” Sept. 8-10 and 15-17 at 7:30 p.m. each evening. Tickets are $15+tax and available a www.leestreet.org or 704-310-5507.

The show is written by Lauren Gunderson and directed by Craig Kolkebeck, artistic director of Lee Street theatre. Novant Health sponsors the production.

“Exit Pursued by a Bear” is a contemporary Southern “revenge comedy” that disarms stereotypes of abuse with wild humor.

According to the playwright, Exit is part I Love Lucy, part Jacobean revenge tragedy, and part 1980s power ballad. Set in the North Georgia mountains, the ever-sweet Nan, played by Morgan Summers, finally flips the story on her abusive husband, Kyle played by Brennen Chisum, and takes back her life. With the help of her colorful friends, her idolization of Jimmy Carter, and one violent Shakespearean stage direction, this play ain’t over till the bears are in pursuit.

“As a director, I find it extremely interesting that the playwright would take a comedic approach to a serious situation,” says Kolkebeck. “Finding the balance in delivery between what is funny and what is seriously important is a really dangerous path to walk. On the one hand, I can lean more on the comical side and lose the message altogether by developing stereotypical caricatures, or I can lean the other direction and be so serious that I lose the audience by beating them over the head with the message. I think another playwright, Wendy Wasserstein, said it best: ‘Humor masks a lot of anger, and it’s a means of breaking up others’ pretenses and of not being pretentious yourself.’”

Caleb Garner and Sarah Dover, as Nan’s friends Simon and Sweetheart the stripper, respectively, act out scenes of Nan and Kyle’s relationship to show Kyle the error of his ways.

“I would say the biggest challenge is embodying other characters in the reenactment scenes,” says Dover. “I have never been faced with the challenge of playing multiple people whilst still playing myself.”

While the themes of Exit may seem heavy, make no mistake — it’s definitely a hilarious show. From the moment Garner enters in a girl’s cheerleading outfit until the karaoke epilogue, “Exit Pursued by a Bear” will keep you laughing.

All performances are at the Lee Street theatre and Performing Arts Center at the Tom & Martha Smith Event Center, 329 N. Lee St.

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