Mel England and Swimming with the Polar Bears


Upon meeting Mel England, there are no visible scars from the torture he has endured.  It is the strength of his conviction, which is appealing, and which drove him to create the one-man show, Swimming with the Polar Bears, in which he uses his life-experiences to expose the dangers of global warming. (Swimming with the Polar Bears Premieres in a 3-day benefit at the Bleecker Street Theatre April 20, 21, and EARTH DAY April 22.)


Swimming with the Polar Bears is a funny, poignant, and devastatingly personal look at the dangers of global warming. Actor Mel England returns to the autobiographical one-man arena, with director Jill André, to explore the parallels between contemporary life, ancient Eskimo mythology, and the tragic loss of endangered species.

The juxtaposition of his personal journey, against the backdrop of video and images by National Geographic’s Tristan Bayer and original music by Thomas Silcott unites in beautiful harmony, mirroring the nature it represents.  Swimming with the Polar Bears transcends from personal anguish to the global world.

Mel is SURVIVOR—he made a choice to survive, and now (after a recent cancer scare) wants to do something about it by propelling people to action—protecting our environment.  A 20 year survivor of AIDS.  He contracted the virus at a time that all of his loved ones were dieing of the disease. Mel is a cancer survivor. Friends call him a “pioneer.”  In the spirit of Magic Johnson, Craig Chester and Tom Duane, coming out with this story is also about realizing that it’s not something to hide or be ashamed of, but something to be proud.

Mel has a history of performing one-man shows. He was in NY and LA premieres of  Israel Horwitz’s 3 Weeks After Paradise about 9/11 and his own Navajo Memoirs (called “ingenious” by Back Stage).  In this show, he takes a profound leap of faith coming out, as a an actor with AIDS.

 Dates: Monday, April 20 at 8 p.m. pre-show presentation from The Climate Project and post-show talk-back;
Tuesday, April 21 at 8 p.m. pre-show presentation from The Climate Project and post-show talk-back; and
Wednesday, April 22 at 8 p.m. EARTH DAY CELEBRATION with The Climate Project.

Length: 75 minutes (no intermission)

Prices: Tickets are $30 and are now available online at TeleCharge  by calling (212) 239-6200.
Tickets may also be purchased in-person at the Theatre’s Box Office, 1⁄2 hour prior to the performance. 

Swimming With The Polar Bears

Bleecker Street Theatre (45 Bleecker Street)

The Best of Gay New York


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