Q&A: Northwestern alumna Christina Calvit performs original story at Chicago storytelling festival


Photo courtesy of Lifeline Theater

Northwestern alumna Christina Calvit performed “Rats ‘R’ Us” through a virtual format for the Fillet of Solo Festival.

Audrey Hettleman, Assistant Arts & Entertainment Editor

Christina Calvit (Communication ‘81) debuted her story, “Rats ‘R’ Us,” at the Fillet of Solo Festival on Jan. 21. The Festival brought together 10 collectives and over 25 individual performers in an online platform for a three-week-long storytelling event. Calvit has been writing plays since her time as a theatre major at Northwestern. She spoke with The Daily about her experiences in the Chicago theatre scene. Calvit’s most recent performance, “Rats ‘R’ Us” is based on Calvit’s own life and tells a story about a summer rat infestation.

Tickets to the Fillet of Solo festival can be purchased through Lifeline Theater’s website.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

The Daily: Where did the idea for “Rats ‘R’ Us” come from?

Calvit: Most times, people are speaking their truth from their own lives. And this just happened: we had a summer of rats. It really freaked me out, I’ve never seen them so aggressive. I was just like, “I’m going to write about this because I have an emotional feeling about it.” I ended up learning a lot about rats from people in the neighborhood, and it just made me think, why are rats so heinous? Why are they so feared?

The Daily: What was it like performing your story at the Fillet of Solo Festival for the first time?

Calvit: Normally with Fillet, you speak in front of a live audience. So the stakes were low because you didn’t really have to memorize. But I will say also, as a storyteller, you feed on the energy of the crowd. So that’s the downside: you don’t get that reaction of laughter or of being able to look into people’s eyes.

The Daily: What message do you hope people take away from your story?

Calvit: When something is beneath the surface and teeming there, there’s no way to get away from it. You just want it to not be present. You don’t want to see it. And the preference would be, “I don’t want to look at that. I don’t want to think about it.” And when it pops up, it’s horrible. I think you do need to think about it, and you do need to engage with it. You need to try to do something you know about these hidden terrors. But I’m just mostly trying to make people laugh.

The Daily: What would you like to say to your audience?

Calvit: Go experience Fillet of Solo — it’s an amazing thing. You will hear stories that will take you out of your regular zone of life. You just get to experience so much through the eyes of these performers that are coming from a totally different place than you, and to me, that’s the beauty of it.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @AudreyHettleman

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