Arts & Entertainment
2 min

Planning a birthday with S Bear Bergman

Writer, educator and performer plans big weekend in Halifax

S Bear Bergman is planning a big weekend in Halifax to mark hir 37th birthday.

S Bear Bergman is a multitasker who not only educates, writes and performs, but also unloads the dishwasher during interviews.

“I find it so much easier to get certain tasks done if they aren’t a total time suck,” Bergman says. “Do you mind?”

Not at all.

Much like any versatile storyteller, the charismatic Bergman plans to celebrate hir 37th birthday in style – with a long weekend of events in Halifax.

The birthday weekend will include trans education events at Halifax Pride on Sept 22 and a “Speakeasy” show at the Company House on Sept 24, which will include story- and joke-telling as well as some audience-inspired improv.

To end the birthday weekend, Bergman will spend Sunday afternoon, Sept 25, at Venus Envy for a workshop on how to flirt.

Storytelling is at the heart of everything Bergman does, including a passion for education, workshops, writing, theatre and poetry.

Bergman knocks two plates together noisily.

“Sorry about that.”

Bergman’s work includes Butch Is a Noun (Suspect Thoughts Press, 2006) and The Nearest Exit May Be Behind You(Arsenal Pulp Press, 2009). Bergman also worked as a co-editor, with Kate Bornstein, of Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation (Seal Press, 2010). There are even three children’s books on the back burner, awaiting a queer-friendly kids publisher: The Adventures of Tulip, Birthday Wish Fairy and Backwards Day.

Bergman came from a pack of storytellers, much like hir friend, renowned tale-chaser Ivan Coyote.

“It’s the only thing that I’ve ever really liked enough to keep doing,” ze says. “I am from a family of storytellers – my dad, my grandfathers, my uncle, my parent’s friends. Every once in a while, if somebody is trying to be a snoot, they ask with whom I studied storytelling. I say Arnie Friedlander. They kind of nod, like ‘Ah, yes.’ Little do they know he’s in the building supplies business; he’s one of Dad’s close friends.”

Bergman remembers sitting around the kitchen table as a child, each person wanting to have the last word. Storytelling is just as much an art as it is a skill, ze says. “Storytelling is the thing I can do. It’s the same one talent wearing different hats.”

Bergman’s work is both hilarious and heartbreaking. Hir latest collection, The Nearest Exit May Be Behind You, had me in stitches one paragraph, in tears the next. In our complicated, detached modern world, pure heart and sheer honesty go a long way.

“My books are full of non-fiction. Some of it’s more storytelling; some of it’s more essays. I know what’s not a good idea; I know what is a good idea to perform.”

Bergman found hir true calling at five when ze was a ringmaster in a school play.

“I was the only kid who could read from my note card and look up every once in a while,” ze says. “I was hooked, immediately. I have a lot of faith in the power of live performance, and the more we move toward a world where you can press pause on anything at any time, the more of a curmudgeon I become about live performance to be important.”