The Northampton Arts Council works to support and nurture the arts in the city of Northampton. The Council awards grants twice each year to artists and arts groups from both state and locally-raised funds, and seeks to improve public awareness of the arts. Its' goals include maintaining and preserving the rich and diverse cultural heritage of Northampton, programming such annual events of interest to the community as First Night Northampton and Transperformance.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Like a Mother Bear: An Environmental Call to Action, Opens at the Ko Festival this Weekend

WHAT: "Like a Mother Bear," written and performed by Helen Stoltzfus
WHEN: Friday and Saturday, July 27th and 28th at 8:00 PM and Sunday, July 29th at 4:00 PM
WHERE: Holden Theater, Amherst College, 200 S Pleasant St. Amherst, MA

AMHERST, MASSACHUSETTS–What happens when the last grizzly bear dies? What happens to a sleep that is no longer slept by a bear? The Ko Festival of Performance continues a season of “Radical Acts” with 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. LIKE A MOTHER BEAR will be performed July 27-29 in the Holden Theater at Amherst College.

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.

Written and performed by Helen Stoltzfus, LIKE A MOTHER BEAR has Albert Greenburg serving as Director/Dramaturg and lighting design by Sabrina Hamilton.

The following week, there is just one place left in Helen Stoltzfus’ 6-day intensive workshop, “Theatre As If Your Life Depended On It” in which participants will be encourage to take creative risks in a safe and supportive setting and tell those stories “that must be told.” This workshop will be offered at the Ko Festival July 30-August 4. To register, visit

Performances will be held Friday and Saturday, July 27 and 28 at 8:00 PM and Sunday, July 29 at 4:00 PM. KoFest performances take place in Amherst College’s air-conditioned Holden Theater, located behind the Admissions Office off South Pleasant Street in Amherst, MA. Tickets are priced at: $22 Adults / $18 Students & Seniors and $10 for SNAP/EBT cardholders. Call about a limited number of $8 tickets. Tickets are available at, by email at, and by phone at (413) 542-3750. The box office phone line is staffed daily from 1-5 and 1 to curtain on performance days.

About Helen Stoltzfus
Helen Stoltzfus (Writer/Performer) has been creating, performing, directing and teaching collaborative and solo theatre for over twenty-five years. 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, 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 on immigration.

Stoltzfus 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.

Stoltzfus 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.

More information about Helen Stoltzfus available at

About The Ko Festival 
The Ko Festival of Performance, in its 27thsummer season on the Amherst College campus, is a perennially popular summer experience in Western Massachusetts, featuring five weeks of theatrical performances,the KoFest Story Slam, and three 6-day intensive theater workshops. Unlike standard summer stock theater, Ko Festival performances are all original, devised pieces, created by distinguished professional solo and ensemble theatre artists from across the U.S.  Each year, the performances at Ko are curated around a theme designed speak to area audiences. This year it’s “RADICAL ACTS” and audiences are having an opportunity to meet a group of 60’s radicals, hear true tales of going AWOL in the jungle, examining one’s relationship with the planet and the courage to create. Lively post-performance discussions, often with guest experts, follow each of the performances.

The Ko Festival, where the only certainty is surprise!


Funded, in part, by The Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency, the Amherst Cultural Council, a local agency supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency, The Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts/Valley Gives, and Art Angels.

Photographs can be found in the Dropbox folder here

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