A good time at the theatre remembering a football legend

Published 10:02 pm Saturday, January 24, 2009

‘Today is mine I can make it what I want it to be.” “I can win or lose.” “I can fail or succeed.” “It is all up to me what I make of today.” “The price of victory is high, but so are the rewards.” These are the opening words of the actor that played Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant in the Alabama Shakespeare Festival’s performance of “Bear Country.”

The play is about the legend of the University of Alabama football coach “Bear” Bryant and his belief in himself to win. It traces the life of a poor farmer’s son in Arkansas to the icon he became and the coach that now all football coaches are judged by and whom they try to represent.

“Bear Country” begins in the office of Coach Bryant looking back on his life on the last day he worked for the University of Alabama. Throughout the play the actor describes all the events that are of importance to the “Bear.” And the legend he became throughout football history.

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The story features the bear wrestling which gave Paul Bryant the nickname “Bear.” It follows seven different stories of the famous coach from playing football at the University of Alabama, recruiting players and the role he played in their lives to his legendary coaching style. Stories of his beliefs in hard work and respecting your family are strong points throughout the play.

The play was written by Michael Vigilant, ASF’s chief operating officer. Vigilant has written several plays and won awards doing so. Bear Country was written for the Southern Writers Project at ASF and, hopefully, will be a national play sold to other theaters across the U.S., according to ASF officials. This play is homegrown, featuring sadness, good ideas, humor and music and in my opinion a must for all Alabama fans that wanted to see what it was like to be up close to the “Bear.”

For more info call the ASF box office at 1-800-841-4273 or visit ASF.net. “Bear Country” runs through Feb. 15, 2009. Remember if you need special assistance for accommodations, such as large print programs, hearing devices or wheel chairs, ask when making ticket requests.

William H. Bowman