Happy Songs About Unhappy Things
Directed by Nikki Lynette & Roger Ellis
Sat Apr 13, 2024 – 2:30 pm | Beloit College Powerhouse
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Happy Songs About Unhappy Things is a groundbreaking new documusical that aims to disrupt the harmful narratives around mental health. By blending documentary footage, statistics, digital art, and mental health expert testimonials with sensational theatrical performances, Nikki Lynette invites us into a musical playground that allows audiences to explore the deepest parts of themselves while feeling empowered along the way.
Everybody’s got a song to sing. It’s doesn’t have to be a sad one.
With this show, we turn the traditional approach to mental health docs on its head.
Fed up with the doom-and-gloom, super clinical, or painfully non-diverse offerings, Happy Songs About Unhappy Things uses the spectacle of musical theater, the irreverence of alternative culture and the engaging nature of catchy songs to tell stories about the mental health concerns we all face. Through story arches specifically crafted to call the viewer in, the audience is allowed to see themselves in what’s depicted and gain insights from mental health professionals who validate them instead of pathologizing them. The emotional core of this show is Nikki Lynette and the two mental health experts who pull no punches. With a badass black female neuroscientist and a sassy black forensic psychiatrist backing her up, Nikki delves into territory most consider taboo.
Through the inclusion of documentary footage, the viewer gets to hear from folks just like them sharing intimate thoughts in a heartwarming group chat setting. They want to be heard. They want acceptance. They wanna be happy… even if it means having to navigate some unhappy things. We look forward to turning this project into a series and finally having our chance to inspire the change we wish to see in the world.
NIKKI LYNETTE (she/her) is a performer, writer and visual artist who fuses mental health activism into her work. An indie artist turned playwright, her musical about depression, Get Out Alive, made her the first black woman to ever be produced by the American Music Theatre Project in 2019 and the first woman developed my AMTP to be selected for NAMT’s Festival of New Musicals in 2022. Her passion for multimedia art led her to adapt her musical to film, winning several indie film awards. She currently sits on the board of directors for the Chicago chapter of NAMI, the largest grassroots mental health organization in the country. Her work is being developed under the guidance of the Tony Award winning production company Octopus Theatricals.
ROGER ELLIS (they/them) is a screen-motion-stage artist and director investigating the mixed reality of Black-queer-aspec experience. Ellis is the original director-choreographer of Nikki Lynette’s afrogoth musical Get Out Alive. Ellis has worked across the US with Steppenwolf’s LookOut Series, Sacramento Music Circus, American Music Theatre Project, Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma, Tuacahn Center for the Arts, and San Diego Repertory. Work includes Ephemera by Overlie-Treanor-Black (dancer, Curious Incident… (movement director – Horizon), and AntigoneNOW (choreographer – Cairo International Festival for Experimental Theatre). MFA San Diego State University, BA Oklahoma City University. Ellis is an assistant professor at Northwestern University.
Director: Nikki Lynette & Roger Ellis
Country: United States
Runtime: 30 min
Writer: Nikki Lynette
Producer: Jamie Foxx, Datari Turner, Qadree Holmes, Jeff Snyder
Executive Producer: Ted Reilly, Kelly Waller, Mark Glassgow, Ira Antelis, Daryl Jones, Roger Ellis, Matt Hennessey, Chris Karabas, Nikki Lynette