"At a Loss"
Music by Beauty Pill
Directed by Emily Marquet
Movement directed by Erin Mitchell Nelson
Performances by Safi Harriott and Kathryn Zoerb
Based on choreography originally created by Paulina Guerrero, Lise Bruneau, and Liz Maestri, with additional choreography by Erin Mitchell Nelson, Safi Harriott, and Kathryn Zoerb. Assistant Camera: Jack Salmon. Gaffer: Margaret Avery. Production Assistant: Linda Lombardi. Lighting Technicians: Chris Curtis, Katie McCreary, and Danny Cackley. Shot on location at the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop in Washington, DC.
The source material for the show was taken from years of posts from internet groups focusing on suicide.
Please know you are not alone.
If you are having thoughts of suicide please call
the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.
For more information on how to help yourself or a loved one please visit
Everyone in Beauty Pill and everyone in the Taffety Punk Theatre Company want you to live. Please live.
This music is the heart of a show, a dance play called suicide.chat.room. It exists because of the hard work and generosity of many people.
We were alerted to the existence of internet suicide pacts and user groups in 2007. The news alarmed us. Our disquiet lead to questions. Our questions prompted us to work. At the time we could not accurately describe what we were making. We knew only that the subject was important to us. Almost everyone in the ensemble had lost someone they loved to suicide. Ultimately, we were driven to make this work to honor them.
As artists we often have to shine a light in dark places to find answers. We trusted we would find a story worth sharing—a story where music, movement, and text were intertwined. The goal always was to foster empathy and understanding through characterization, action, and catharsis. Maybe that is the goal of all theatre.
When we started the internet was a very different place, but it was full of just as much noise as now. We didn't need to create user accounts to see most of what we were looking for. The majority of the posts were just there, out in the open, surprisingly easy to find. And, because of the internet's propensity to throw nothing away, most of what we read was from the past. We found groups with short histories, groups with long histories, and groups that were forced to disband because they were overwhelmed by trolls. We found that no one used their real names and that they often posted via a means that blocked others from finding their location. In spite of such surface defenses, these virtual communities were above all very welcoming. Under the assumption that only those who had lost hope of ever having hope would enter such a group, the users had a profound openness to newcomers.
"Sorry you're here" was an honest way of welcoming someone in. It was a way to say, "You are not alone. And we will listen." If we were to reduce the motivations for making this show to one word it would be that.
We wanted to amplify these words to help others listen.
We found words that were all too moving and even more that were wonderfully mundane. Our questions were endless, the answers elusive.
What is this space that is not a space? What is a voice in this silent medium? What is community when the members of a community are essentially anonymous?
At some point we separated selected posts from the original threads and removed the user names. We then had only a randomly assembled set of fragments. We matched fragments with others and scenarios emerged. As actors, we looked for motives and obstacles. As dancers we looked for the desires that lead to physical impulses. As musicians, we looked for the unutterable: life moving through time. The text in the show is essentially unaltered, but the characters and events in the show emerged from these experiments. Beauty Pill created environments entirely out of music for us, and we moved through this haunting sonic landscape.
As the words merged with the dance, and these merged with the music, we finally had a collection of vignettes: like staged songs. Each of these segments explored a possible thread and each felt like it had a beginning, a middle, and an end. Sequencing these into a story seemed utterly impossible until...
We found that Kimberly Gilbert's character, lostbooks, had the makings of a through line: a newcomer who finds her way into the group and navigates her way through the trajectory of threads. lostbooks is at once a witness and a participant. It was important to us and to this story that she survive. Her last monologue in the show, the only text from the play on this record, is a coda that honors all she has learned and all she has witnessed. It ends with that most important human question "What do you want?"
In the show, just after this monologue, her last action is to greet a newcomer who says he has nothing left to live for. She says, simply and generously, "Welcome. Sorry you're here."
Thank you for listening.
Artistic Director, Taffety Punk Theatre Co
Beauty Pill, Sorry You're Here
Taffety Punk #64
suicide.chat.room is a dance play conceived and directed by Marcus Kyd with choreography by Paulina Guerrero and Erin Mitchell Nelson, created with Elizabeth Abt, Tonya Beckman, Lise Bruneau, Chad Clark, Joel David Santner, Kimberly Gilbert, Gwen Grastorf, Paulina Guerrero, Micheline Heal, Paul Edward Hope, Emma Jaster, Liz Maestri, Erin Mitchell Nelson, and Matthew R. Wilson, and produced by Taffety Punk Theatre Company, 2010, 2012, and 2020.
Music written and produced by Beauty Pill founder (and Taffety Punk company member) Chad Clark, arranged/performed by Beauty Pill (Basla Andolsun, Chad Clark, Jean Cook, Drew Doucette, Devin Ocampo).
Special thanks to Caroline Borolla, Jason Aufdem-Brinke, Omar Cruz, Dischord Records, Josh Taylor, Ellen Houseknecht, Scott Hammar, Chris Curtis, Kelsey Mesa, Daniel Flint, Megan Rippey, Matt Tolf, Seth Rose, Sofia Scanlan, Ryan Carroll Nelson, Paola Rodriguez, the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, the Mead Theatre Lab program at Flashpoint, Sarah Coleman, Emma Fisher, Jenny McConnell Frederick, Mark Ramont, Gregg Henry, Christopher Marino, Maia DeSanti, Laura Gamse, Mindy Woodhead, Sean Peoples, David Polk, Danisha Crosby, Blake Robison, Round House Theatre Company, Karen Bilotti, Andrea Locke, Mehdi Raoufi, The Capitol Hill Community Foundation, the Cafritz Foundation, the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, Jill Strachan, Kent Gay, Julia Strachan, Gary Logan, Amanda Barber, Jacob Janssen, Kris Swanson, Catherine Ichniowski, Liane Kerry, Josh Chapman, Lexa Rio, Bandcamp, and the good folks at Jimmy T's.
"Sorry You’re Here is that rare record that doesn’t merely live up to unrealistic expectations, but in its best moments, exceeds them."
—Nathan Leigh, AFROPUNK
"The record resists concise description, every song as eclectic as it is evocative, beauty brushing against brutality, the classical and the cutting-edge intertwined in infinite variations. "
—M. L. Rio, The Vinyl District
"Chad Clark reveals once again why he's one of the best composers working in DC, if not America, at the moment."
—Glenn Griffith, A Pessimest Is Never Disappointed
A comprehensive and thorough look at their work throughout the pandemic, Erin and Chad discuss Beauty Pill’s creative drive and last year’s three releases, including the score for Taffety Punk's dance play suicide.chat.room: Sorry You’re Here.
This is a project we come back to from time to time. And it is a great preview for what is to come. Stay with us. There will be more and more soon.
Read by Lise Bruneau
Choreography by Erin Mitchell Nelson
Music and sound by Marcus Kyd
Directed by Joel David Santner
A year and a half ago, the cancellations started. The doors of theatres closed. Artists were sent home. Not one of us expected the doors would be shut this long.
We just want to offer this toast to you all: for your glorious patience, your diligence, your support, and your health.
There is a light at the end of this tunnel. Stay safe. Wear your mask. Get vaccinated when you can. We can't wait to see you again.
For the latest information on shows, special events, classes, public workshops, discounts and parties, it's all here.
Donate today to keep us rockin'!Donate Now