Bright Invention in SoLow Fest: Interviews with The Artists

Director Jennifer MacMillan interviews Randi Alexis Hickey about what audiences can expect from her SoLow show, Coffee is Thicker Than Blood.


Photo: Sarah R. BloomTell us about your show! What's it about? What can we expect? Will there be snacks?!

It’s called Coffee is Thicker Than Blood and it’s about found family. I’ve found that the standard idea of family is a tricky one, and not necessarily something I believe in. That whole concept of family being the people who you share DNA with or whose house you grew up in feels limiting— and maybe sometimes not so helpful in growing up into your best self. Audiences can expect to see that idea challenged. Another common through line in my life has been coffee. The people I have conversations with over coffee, the people who bring it to me when I so desperately need it, and how it’s pretty much my Elixir of Life. So you can expect some of that as well. What you shouldn't expect is for there to be decaf, I don’t know what that stuff is for. 


What has your development process been like so far? What are the elements of this process that you are delighted with? Scared about? Stressing Over?

So far the process has been a lot of digging. I’ve been digging through my life’s experience, as well as the internet, to write the stories you’ll all be hearing when you come to the Little Living Room Cafe. With that digging, there’s been a lot of personal challenges set before me by my lovely director, Jenn. The center of this piece is storytelling, and there is a certain vulnerability to the stories I’ve chosen to tell you all. One thing that I’ve learned from Jenn both in our previous work together and in this process is that when something feels scary, it usually means there’s something there worth exploring and sharing. So to answer two questions in one, what scares me just as much as it delights me is when I start writing and a story emerges that feels a little uncomfortable to speak aloud. I’m also delighted that I get to drink coffee onstage, because lord knows with stage managing the other nine SoLow shows that Bright Invention is doing, while also working on my own, I’ll need it. 


What do you hope audiences take away from Coffee is Thicker Than Blood?

Who do you really want to take out to coffee? Just to sit and listen to what’s on their mind and how they think about the world? The people I call my family all fit that bill, and if audiences can either say the same or leave thinking about that question, then I’d be happy. Or at the very least, I hope they walk away slightly more caffeinated than when they came in. 


Which other BI SoLow show are you excited about? Why?

I’m excited about all of them, really. Which sounds like a cop-out answer, but everyone is doing really exciting work. The first one off the top of my head is Emily Schuman’s piece, because we had a rehearsal with her today and it was a ton of fun. She’s doing stand-up, and I really enjoy her as a person already— I think we have a similar sense of humor. So I am absolutely stoked to watch her do stand-up. 


Give me a quote that sums up how you're feeling 25 days out from your debut solo performance.

I feel…incredibly excited and proud. Something that I’ve learned, that I will always carry with me as a theatre artist, is that those of us going at this have been given the gift of storytelling. And we have a sort of obligation— to tell our stories for those who can’t. 

For tickets and more info on this piece click here