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'The Sadness Show' Takes an Alternative Valentine's Approach

By Adeshina Emmanuel | February 11, 2014 6:41am
 "The Sadness Show" is scheduled for Saturday at 7:30 p.m., inside an empty storefront at 4101 N. Broadway.
The Sadness Show
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UPTOWN — Valentine’s Day is supposedly all about love and affection, but every year there’s also a lot of sadness in the air come Feb. 14.

Pivot Arts plans to channel that woe Saturday with “The Sadness Show,” a pop-up performance in Uptown featuring sad plays, a "Sadness Game Show," a performance by singer/songwriter Sad Brad Smith and breakup-themed karaoke.

Pivot Arts is the North Side organization behind the Pivot Arts Festival that launched in 2013 and will return to Uptown, Edgewater and Andersonville in May. "The Sadness Show" will be in an empty storefront at 4101 N. Broadway that used to be a laundromat — but has been used since last year as an occasional gallery and performance arts space.

Pivot Executive Director Julieanne Ehre said the idea for “The Sadness Show” comes from Pivot associate member Tanya Palmer, director of new play development at the Goodman Theatre.

“She said she always wanted to do a sadness show, and there's so much focus on happiness shows and happiness projects and what it means to be happy that it just sounded like such a ridiculous idea to do something focusing on sadness. It’s something we don’t talk about,” Ehre said, laughing. “But we’re being a bit tongue and cheek. Nobody really wants to come out and be miserable for a performance."

Palmer and playwrights Noah Haidle, Ike Holter, Mickle Maher, Shannon Matesky and Brett Neveu will present plays focused on sadness, and a panel of "sadness experts" will judge their works, Pivot said.

Local singer and songwriter Sad Brad Smith will perform some of his downhearted tunes. The artist got his big break in 2009 after his song "Help Yourself" was featured on the soundtrack for "Up in the Air," a film starring George Clooney.

"The Sadness Show" audience will have a chance to perform “Break-Up Karaoke,” according to the organization.

And to complete the vibe at "The Sadness Show," wine will be served.

Whenever she tells people about the show, Ehre said “They just start laughing and want to come.”

“I think part of it is the uniqueness [of the show], that there is something absurd about marketing an event by promoting the idea of sadness.”

Citing a recent New York Times piece about the “How are You? Culture Clash" between Americans and Russians, Ehre said that some cultures find it rude and are puzzled by Americans asking “How are you?” and expecting a quick, nondescript “I’m fine” in response rather than for the person to actually describe how they’re doing — which could result in some sad responses.

“In other cultures if you say ‘How are you?’ they’re going to tell you how they really are. But in America it’s more just a form of greeting,” she said. “I think just culturally Americans don’t really respect sadness — we’re supposed to be striving and persevering.”