Erin Roche is a graduate of Columbia College Chicago with a degree in Vocal Performance, a strong theater background, and an even stronger desire to showcase the best that Chicago talent has to offer.
HAVING IT ALL improviser and producer Rebeccah Singer.
Is “Having It All” as straightforward a concept as having a fulfilling career/love life/family? Who decides what “it” is anyways? Why is this question rarely if ever pointed at men? What does “fulfilling” even mean and…. and the questions go on. On a Wednesday night in Aug at 10:30 pm I stepped into the buzzing iO theater and promptly grabbed myself a beverage and a seat inside an intimate room bursting with Q.U.E.E.N. by Janelle Monáe, to hear storytellers Shantira Jackson, Olivia Nielson, Meghan Sullivan, Anneliese Toft, and Jo Scott recount fragments of their life all centering around the titular theme—HAVING IT ALL. This combination of comedy, storytelling, and improv features women of varying ages, ethnicities, experiences, and desires that delve into what “Having It All” means to them, and just how vast and sometimes absurd that phrase can be.
From tales of seventh-grade popularity to hope chests to finding the only thing truly lacking in your life is perhaps your amount of silverware, I laughed and leaned into every woman’s words. The whole night felt like a late night talk with your girlfriend, and not the stereotypical “girl talk” scenario, but the kind of talk that you have when you contemplate changing your career, weighing the option of having children (whoa, that one is heavy, right?), or leaving a depressed partner. Story after story, I found myself refreshingly invested, reacting internally with responses of, “Man, I hear that. I understand you. You get it.”
Following the real-life stories of these women comes complete comic relief via the improvisers Lauren Summers, Caitlin Joseph, Clare Austen-Smith, Shadee Vossoughi, Lucy Walker, and Rebeccah Singer. They took these stories and caricaturized every patriarchal expectation, every disastrous family reunion, and every gossiping friend-of-a-friend to make light of the nonsense of it all. “Having it all” is a myth; it’s all perspective. The overall consensus landed at precisely this: If you have love in your life—be it a dog, a friend, a partner, a sister–you “have it”. Life is much more meaningful and complex than the theoretical balance of the endless pathways of the female experience. In a sea of “cans” and “cannots” that women wade through seemingly by the hour, it was eye-opening to sit with a group of women and feel our varying narratives align. But even with saying that, I feel this ensemble piece needs to be fleshed out and expanded with more stories to reach its full potential. Let’s see a full run!