‘So much feeling’: Sit & Spin Productions’ ‘Stupid F—ing Bird’ explores life, love and art

A+person+on+the+left+stands+while+a+person+on+the+right+angrily+points+a+finger.+Both+wear+pajamas.

Joanne Haner

The Shanley Pavilion was standing-room only for three shows.

Content warning: This article includes mentions of suicide. 

On a 360-degree stage in Shanley Pavilion, an actor said, “The show will begin when someone says, ‘Start the f—ing play.’” 

Very soon after, an audience member shouted, “Start the f—ing play!” 

Sit & Spin Productions, an unconventional theatre group, ran Aaron Posner’s “Stupid F—ing Bird” on Friday and Saturday. The play explores the meaning of life, love and art, alongside the protagonist’s experience with depression and suicide.

“Theatre is about visceral feeling,” director and Communication junior Declan Collins said. “I really just want audience members to be along for the ride and feel these overpowering emotions and get a full spectrum of what it means to be alive.” 

The play is metatheatrical, meaning characters are aware they are in a play, according to Collins. They said this “blurs the lines between actors and audience.” 

Actors like Communication junior Reilly Oh, who played protagonist Con, broke the fourth wall and interacted with the audience during the play. Con even asked the audience’s advice for how to win back his love interest Nina, so the dialogue played out differently each show. 

Characters also addressed the value of newer forms of theatre and art — just like metatheatre, according to Oh. 

“Theatre can be something big and meaningful, but also something just super silly and dumb and absolutely delightful, and both are extremely important,” he said. 

The play also repeated the line “so much feeling” multiple times throughout its three acts, referring to characters’ intense experiences like heartbreak and unrequited love. 

Producer and SESP senior Cormac Callanan said the crew wanted to deliver something “fresh” to the audience. The final product was unlike anything Callanan said he had ever seen before. 

“I hope people are able to come out of it thinking about their relationships of love, whether that’s familial or romantic or platonic,” Callanan said. “I hope it’s jarring.” 

Communication freshman Hailey Silva had never been to a Northwestern theatre performance but saw the highlighter-yellow seagull poster advertising the show. 

After seeing it the first night, she got back in line for the second showing and came back the next day, too — all three shows were standing-room only.

“The people who didn’t see the show really missed out because the impact that it had on me really made me think about life,” Silva said. 

Sit & Spin also offered a sensory-friendly performance on Thursday. The show included flashing lights, yelling and explicit mentions of suicide, Collins said, which they knew might make some viewers uncomfortable. 

For the Thursday showing, the board worked with Seesaw Theatre, which produces multi-sensory theatre for disabled audiences. Seesaw lent Sit & Spin sensory packs for audience members, including sunglasses, headphones and fidget toys, according to Callanan. 

“I want to make sure as many people can see the art as possible,” Collins said. “I’m really excited to see all student theatre boards incorporate sensory friendly performances … because I think it’s time for that to happen.”

Toward the end of the play, Con was in emotional turmoil over his perceptions of love and society and said he might attempt suicide. He was debating this when he said, “Stop the f—ing play.” What went on from there is up to the audience’s interpretation.

The lights switched off and the room fell silent. 

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @karapeeler

Related Stories:

Sit & Spin Productions builds community around out-of-the-box theatre

— ‘Water by the Spoonful’ tells Pulitzer Prize-winning story about addiction, family

A guide to Northwestern theatre groups