Fri. & Sat. July 27-28 at 8pm, Sunday July 29 at 4pm

Writer/Performer: HELEN STOLTZFUS
Director/Dramaturg: ALBERT GREENBERG
Original Director/Dramaturg Martha Boesing

What happens when the last grizzly bear dies? What happens to a sleep that is no longer slept by a bear?

LIKE A MOTHER BEAR follows one woman’s extraordinary journey to healing in which she encounters the Great Bear Mother of the imagination and the very real endangered bear of the wilderness. 

Based on the playwright’s personal story, this life-changing experience propels her on an odyssey that moves from the bear den of dreams to the office of an Elvis-impersonating acupuncturist to the Alaska wilderness. She relives her past illness and infertility, grappling with the “womb-knowledge” that insists that life continue even in the face of environmental devastation. In the wilds she comes to understand the connection between her own endangered health and that of the threatened grizzly bear – as well as the painful and exhilarating secret of what it means to become like a mother bear. In this groundbreaking call to action, personal healing and the welfare of future generations are inextricably entwined with the survival of the natural world.

A compelling quest for birth of spirit… San Francisco Examiner

This is a deeply significant personal journey that has great meaning for individual women and for the planet… Jean Shinoda Bolen, author of Goddesses in Every Woman and Close to the Bone

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HELEN STOLTZFUS (Writer/Performer)  has been creating, performing, directing and teaching collaborative and solo theatre for over twenty-five years.  She has guided dozens of workshop participants in creating and performing their own solo performances as well as ensemble theatre. She has taught college students, patients dealing with serious illness, inner city teens, theatre professionals, schoolteachers, and immigrant parents. Her specialty – and joy – is guiding participants in uncovering the stories most important to them and crafting the best theatrical form for that narrative. Helen teaches workshops and classes in solo performance, ensemble creation, “Slow Theatre”, community-based theatre-making, as well as “Ancestor Dialogues” (drawing on our family ancestors – both real and imagined – as creative guides) and “Animal Wisdom” (exploring how our relationship with a particular animal – real or imagined – may inform and deepen our creative work). This “animal wisdom” was the inspiration for her play, Like A Mother Bear.. Her popular “Theatre As If Your Life Depended On It” workshop encourages participants to take creative risks in a safe and supportive setting and tell those stories “that must be told.”  This workshop will be offered at Ko July 30-August 4. Click here for more information on this workshop.

Stoltzfus is a founder and co-artistic director of Black Swan Arts & Media, based in Oakland, California, that creates and produces original performance works. BSAM’s most recent works are: The Prepared Table: A Feast of Foods, Live Performance, and Stories from Iraq, Afghanistanand the FOB (Forward Operating Base of the US Military), a multimedia response to the post 9/11 wars, Heart of America: Stories from the New Ellis Island, an aerial dance work on immigration, and, Like A Mother Bear, a solo performance work that explores the intersection of ecology, myth, and healing. (at the Ko Festival July 27 – 19, 2018)


In 2004 Helen founded ALICE Arts, later renamed Black Swan Arts & Media. For its first ten years ALICE’s education arm also brought professional artists into Bay Area classrooms to teach performing and visual arts to over 12,000 Oakland youth. The Ancestor Project, an oral history and performing arts program, collected hundreds of oral histories from immigrants over a period of six years and provided the text for the professional performance work, Heart of America.

Helen is former co-artistic director of the former internationally acclaimed ensemble, A Traveling Jewish Theatre—and its only non-Jewish member. Over her 15-year tenure with ATJT she co-created, directed, and performed in eight original mainstage plays. Her plays have been performed worldwide, from The Los Angeles Theatre Festival to Hamburg’s Sommer Theatre Festival, and from Prague to Appalachia.

Helen also co-wrote and starred in a film adaptation of her solo play, Like a Mother Bear. It won the Best Docudrama award from the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival, and an award for creative excellence from the Earthvision Environmental Film and Video Festival. Helen has received numerous additional awards for her work, including grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, California Arts Council, City of Oakland Cultural Arts Program, and the Djerassi Resident Artists Program.

ALBERT LOUIS GREENBERG (Director) is a founder and co-artistic director of Black Swan Arts & Media, a performing arts nonprofit that produces large-scale multimedia works, located in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has been writing, directing, performing, and composing original works for the stage for over 30 years.

Greenberg has over thirty years of creating original works the stage. His plays and music have been performed worldwide, including the Los Angeles Theatre Festival, the Kampnagel Hamburg Sommer Festival, and the Fool’s Festival in Copenhagen, traveling the globe from Toronto to Oslo, and from Prague to Appalachia.

He is the co-writer, co-director, and principal composer for Black Swan’s performance works, including “The Prepared Table: A Feast of Foods, Live Performance, and Stories from Iraq, Afghanistan, and the FOB (Forward Operating Base of the US Military)”, a multimedia response to the post 9/11 wars, and “Heart of America: Stories from the New Ellis Island”, an aerial dance work based on real-life immigrant stories from Yemen to Cambodia, and from Guatemala to Liberia.

SABRINA HAMILTON (Lighting Design) co-founded and is the Artistic Director of the Ko Festival of Performance in Amherst, MA. For many years she worked with the New York theatre company Mabou Mines as Lighting Designer, Production Manager, Stage Manager, Performer, and Assistant Director. Other credits include work at the New York Shakespeare Festival, the Goodman Theatre, the Mark Taper Forum and 6 years as Route Lighting Designer for New York’s Village Halloween Parade under the direction of Ralph Lee. International lighting credits include work in Berlin, Bologna, Florence, Milan, London, Grenada, Geneva, Nuremburg, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Amsterdam, Brussels, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Hong Kong, at the Bristol Old Vic, the Theatre Academy in Tampere, Finland, and at the International Theatre Festival in Havana, Cuba. She has spent much of the past several years touring with Sandglass Theater. as the lighting designer for their production of D-GENERATION: An Exaltation of Larks, the show that closed Ko’s season on “Age & Aging.”

Sabrina’s directing work, primarily original pieces, has been seen in New York, Berlin and throughout New England. She directed CRAVINGS: Songs of Hunger and Satisfaction, that premiered at the 2008 Ko Festival and then went on on to a three-week, sold-out run at the Central Square Theatre in Cambridge, MA, where it garnered a  nomination for an IRNE Award.  Other directing  credits include, INDUSTRIOUS ANGELS, the show that will close Ko’s 2018 season.

Additional information


Adult $24 (includes $2.00 processing fee), Senior-65+ $20 (includes $2.00 processing fee), Student $20 (includes $2.00 processing fee), People with SNAP or EBT cards $11 (includes $1 processing fee)


Friday 8pm, Saturday 8pm, Sunday 4pm

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