Jacoba Williams stars in Before I Was A Bear, a satirical and contemporary take on Greek mythology and the social media slut-shaming generation, at The Bunker.

Before I Was A Bear presents a darkly comic tale from a female perspective, exploring the shame and treatment that comes with stepping outside of the mundane to claim your own agency. This debut production from London playwright Eleanor Tindall will be directed by Aneesha Srinivasan

Before I Was A Bear starring Jacoba Williams is at The Bunker 12th – 23rd November 2019.

You’re starring in Before I Was a Bear at The Bunker, what can you tell us about it?

It is a one woman show, about a woman who is turned into a bear… Ha! There’s a bit more to it than that. It’s a young woman’s story about an experience that everyone else has made up their mind on. It is her uninhibited and honest account of the factors of her life that lead up to being turned into a bear. You could say she’s bearing all… get it?

What do you like most about your character?

My character, Cally, is so honest. Brutally honest. There’s a line where she says as a kid she was “obnoxious and said what [she] thought without a care” and I’m like yeah, you still do that, love. However, I hope it comes across more endearing now. Sometimes her language is similar to stand-up comedy, it has that kind of raw openness, that’s really thrilling to do. I love how she finds courage; I think we could all do with growing a pair (of ovaries) like Cally.

Why do you think it’s important this story is told from a female perspective?

Because we know the story from a male perspective already. It’s not called HIStory for no reason. We think we’re super woke and unbiased, but even as women we must challenge opinions and thoughts that may have been socially conditioned. I know I have. When I first read the play I didn’t know it was based on an ancient myth, and frankly the play makes total sense without any prior knowledge of it, but there’s a section in the original where it describes Zeus “passionately” kissing Callisto, his rape victim, how messed up is that? That we allow the story to be told that his lust and passion ok’s his actions. Nah, time for a change.

What has impressed you the most about Eleanor Tindall’s writing?

All of it. She properly captures the insides of a millennial-20-something-woman’s mind, as one, I feel like this could have been my story, or my mates, or that girl I went to school with. What I love is that this is Cally’s story, not an exact retelling of a Greek myth. I find that Elly’s (Eleanor’s) writing challenges me and hopefully our audience too. What’s surprising is how unsurprising some of the events in Cally’s life are – the abuse of power, the unexplained male behaviour, the pedestal we’re taught to put men on.

What’s the biggest challenge for you as a performer with this play?

That there’s only me. I’m super excited about it but also a bit terrified that this is the first time it will only be on stage. I’ve been training in preparation to keep my stamina up, love a good swim. But to be fair the whole creative team are so slick and have had their individual input that it feels like there’s a bit of us all on the stage which is empowering to know you’ve got back up, like my sisters are just with me.

What would you say to anyone thinking of coming to see Before I Was a Bear?

If you go down to theatre tonight (12-23rd November) you’re in for a big surprise!

Main Image: Jacoba Williams credit Ruth Crafer

Greg is an award-winning writer with a huge passion for theatre. He has appeared on stage, as well as having directed several plays in his native Scotland. Greg is the founder and editor of Theatre Weekly


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