“B*tch of Living,” an arts collaboration with the Wellness Center, is a cabaret-style show about mental health, and will be performed on April 7.
The show is comprised of singing, dancing and slam poetry performances about some of the really difficult aspects of life. Performing the show has been a tradition at St. Olaf, but was noticeably absent on campus last spring. However, the new directors Becca Thavis ’17 and Graham Essex ’17 are “really grateful not only that we’re able to bring it back this year, but also to put a new twist on it,” Thavis said.
Thavis credits much of their successful “twisting” of the show to the talent of her co-director, Essex, because of his “gift of being able to combine music fluidly,” which allowed them to create “four original mashups for the cast in one day.”
Besides original music, this show will also feature a special performance by the St. Olaf Gospel Choir, marking their first partnership with another on-campus organization. Their involvement is “a dream come true” for Thavis, who stated that she’d already cried after watching them in one rehearsal.
This specific production is especially dear to these two seniors, who performed in the show together their freshman year and are now able to bring it back for their last year on the Hill. The co-directors divide up the rehearsal process in an interesting way; the performers all work with Essex to learn their music and, in his words, “they go to Becca to cry.” The pair believes this creates a nice balance; showing “the duality of knowing a piece and performing it,” Essex said.
Thavis echoed, “They come to me knowing the song and the notes. We work on how they can connect to those words and the messages personally.”
Thavis and Essex are not the only performers who have continued to come back each year. Julia Pilkington ’17, another senior performing in the show, reminisced on her previous years participating, saying that it was something she continued to look forward to each spring. This statement was echoed by Essex.
“It’s a very cathartic experience,” he said.
This show is one of the most anticipated performances of the semester, and for good reason. The variety of performances, showcasing the “b*tches of living” of the different performers, create an intimate experience for audience members. It invites them to explore their own emotions: to laugh and cry, to take a deep sigh when they are leaving and to feel renewed and validated.
“It’s this collection of the joys and angsts of life. It shows you things that resonate with you personally and some things you may not have any experience with. Either way, you leave knowing that you aren’t alone, in anything you do or anything that you have experienced,” Pilkington said.
Essex agreed, adding, “If the audience doesn’t cry at least once, we’re doing something wrong. They should cry from laughing, but also just cry. I think it’ll be a mix of both.”
Thavis thinks the show has an important takeaway for audience members.
“Sometimes, we as humans have a tendency to overcommit and it’s really good to be able to support your whole being and your mental health. People forget that who they are, just by being who they are, is very important. It gets overwhelmed and lost in everything so making sure that everyone feels guided, safe and important is the nature of this show,” Thavis said.
More information will be released about ticket sales in the coming weeks. Stay on the lookout because they will sell out fast.