Student production ‘happysadness’ tackles challenging topics

Student production ‘happysadness’ tackles challenging topics

The BYU Department of Theatre and Media Arts will premiere the student production, happysadness Feb. 23-25 at 7:30 p.m. with a Saturday matinee at 2 p.m. in the Margetts Theatre of the Harris Fine Arts Center at BYU. Tickets are $5 and are available at the BYU Ticket Office in the Harris Fine Arts Center or Marriott Center, by phone at 801-422-2981 or online at byuarts.com.

Written by recent BYU alumna Chandra Lloyd, happysadness went through a writer/dramaturg/actor workshop at BYU before being selected as the “Microburst” performance of 2017. As part of this workshop, dramaturg and actors give feedback and ask questions about one play each week, giving the playwright one week to make improvements before returning.

Lloyd felt this workshop was one of the most helpful tools to improve her ability as a writer.

“They asked brilliant questions and I felt like I never got stuck, which is great as a writer because that can happen so easily,” Lloyd said.

The semi-autobiographical play tackles the difficult topic of mental illness with humor, creativity and empathy. Lloyd has dealt with, and continues to deal with, anxiety and depression in her life and her goal was to create a character (Val) and story that people would care about and connect with in order to discuss mental health.

“My play is imaginative and explores mental illness and life in general from Val’s perspective as a young adult who really has a lot going for her, but she can’t see it.” Lloyd said. “It’s a play that deals with depression and anxiety, but isn’t depressing. It’s a comedy—sometimes it’s a dark one—but a comedy nonetheless.”

Olivia Ockey is a student actress in the show. Ockey said she is impressed with the level of professionalism from the entire crew. As someone who has struggled with depression and anxiety herself she feels this show is a “breath of fresh air.”

“One of the biggest issues with mental illness in today’s society is simply the fact that because you can’t physically see it, it’s hard to understand,” Ockey said. “My favorite aspect of happysadness is that it takes a struggle that is so private and internal and turns it into something you can see.”

Happysadness will include the use of puppets to personify the different parts of mental illness.

The show is being directed by recent BYU alumna Taylor Hatch. Lloyd works closely with Hatch and the entire ensemble, attends the rehearsals and offers insight as she watches the script come to life.

“We treat the show as a real-world production and expect the same quality of work and dedication to the process as in professional theatre,” Hatch said. “Students get to learn how to communicate their visions, share responsibility and be productive members of the ensemble in a hands-on environment.”

Happysadness is part of the annual “Microburst” series. Traditionally the event is a collection of 10 minute plays by a range of playwriting students and will return to this pattern next year.

“I’ve enjoyed and embraced the challenges of bringing a new play to the stage,” Hatch said. “It has allowed us the freedom to explore the text, wrestle with it and discover the best methods to lift the story off the page.”

Hatch, Lloyd, and Ockey agree happysadness is unique, relatable and ultimately a production no one should miss.

Tickets and Show Details

  • Performance Dates and Times: Feb. 23-25, 7:30 p.m. with a Saturday matinee at 2 p.m.
  • Location: Nelke Theatre, Harris Fine Arts Center, BYU
  • Price: $5
  • Tickets: Available in person at the BYU Ticket Office in the Harris Fine Arts Center or Marriott Center, by phone at 801-422-2981

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