Jennifer Barclay, author of Behave Yourself
Jennifer Barclay, author of Behave Yourself; courtesy of the playwright

In 1967, during the infamous “Night of the Grizzlies,” two 19-year-old women were mauled to death by bears during two separate attacks at Montana’s Glacier National Park. The victims were both blamed in the media and by park services—whether for lack of outdoor experience or menstruating—even as recent bear sightings by other women campers had been dismissed as hysteria. Playwright Jennifer Barclay found the historic event not unlike fairy-tale tropes of young women wandering into forests and confronting wild beasts to often tragic or didactic ends. Both subjugate women to the patriarchy through “fear and sticking to the path of least resistance,” Barclay tells City Paper. In her new play Behave Yourself, Barclay pushes back against such patriarchal narratives, writing a juicy dark comedy that explores grief, friendship, and joy. “I’m standing on the shoulders of [Stephen] Sondheim’s Into the Woods, but finding new paths for Little Red Riding Hood and Goldilocks to explore,” says Barclay. “Comedies let us tackle larger questions. When we laugh, we naturally lean in and listen better.” Behave Yourself is part of Barclay’s trilogy of plays set in U.S. National Parks and is one of Signature Theatre’s Monday Night New Play Readings this spring. Sigworks: Behave Yourself reading, written by Jennifer Barclay and directed by Kimberly Senior, starts at 7 p.m. on March 27 at Signature Theatre in Arlington and online. Free, tickets required.