Lipstick Theatre premieres “Outdoor Bird” in Shanley Pavilion


Communication junior Dani Goldberg and Communication sophomore Robbie Matthew play the protagonist and Jawline, an attractive male love interest.

Jamie Kim , Reporter

Audience members can confront the tension between emotional comfort and personal growth at performances of “Outdoor Bird,” a new play whose first ever staging is taking place at Northwestern this weekend.  

The play, written by Megan Rivkin, explores questions about relationships, power dynamics and personal growth through the interactions of a writer and the characters she’s written. Lipstick Theatre is producing the show, which will run this Thursday through Saturday at Shanley Pavilion and is free to students.

Director Lila Marooney (Communication ’24), compares the play to the movie “Inside Out.” After having a bad day, the main character, Protagonist, hosts a dinner party with all of the characters she keeps writing. 

“The way that they cope with those overwhelming feelings and kind of the budding panic that they provoke is by going to a place in their mind where they feel the most comfortable and in control and safe,” Marooney said. 

Communication sophomore Declan Collins said the play doesn’t necessarily follow a linear structure, but instead centers the audience’s emotional journey. Collins portrays Ollie, a character who serves as a “blank canvas” representing the crossroads Protagonist is at. 

The play includes themes of love and insecurity, which Collins said he hopes viewers can find connection to in their individual lives. He said he’s excited to act in person instead of on Zoom as an important aspect of acting is making justified movements and ensuring everything actors do with their whole bodies connects to the goal of the play. 

“Feeling another person’s energy, there’s nothing really like that, especially on stage,” Collins said.

Because the play doesn’t take place in a literal setting, Communication sophomore Haley Groth said the set designer, Communication sophomore Ethan Cheng, and Marooney collaborated to create a “surrealist” set. 

Groth said she appreciates the way Shanley lends the cast and crew the flexibility to create an intimate environment. She said the show will be “very different from what people have seen on this campus before.”

Based on the way the world is structured in the play, Marooney said the actors will be in a “liminal space” between being on and off stage. She said she hopes viewers will immerse themselves in the experience of looking at other audience members as much as the actors themselves. 

For Marooney, it was difficult to study theatre when in-person performances were canceled due to the pandemic. As a result, she said she has been excited to have face-to-face rehearsals and work with other members of the cast and crew. 

“It’s been such a joy to work with everyone involved in this process in what feels like such a contrasting way to the past year,” Marooney said. 

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