brooke mccarthy

University of Georgia Master of Fine Arts acting candidate, Brooke McCarthy poses for a portrait. (Courtesy/Brooke McCarthy)

Master of Fine Arts acting candidate, Brooke McCarthy is debuting her original one woman show, “How To Be An Ethical Slut.” The show follows one woman, Blake, reflecting on her past lovers and how they’ve transformed her. The cabaret-comedy will be streaming Thursday, Nov. 19-21 at 8 p.m. Tickets are free, but pay-what-you-will, and can be reserved here. The show tackles mature content.It is advised only those 18 years or older attend.

The Red & Black talked with McCarthy over Zoom to discuss the show.

The Red & Black: What inspired you to create this show?

Brooke McCarthy: I began reading a book called “The Ethical Slut” written by Dossie Easton and Janet W. Hardy, which is about how to live an ethically non-monogamous life. What’s really cool about it is that, even if you don’t believe in ethical non-monogamy, it’s really a book about how to be honest and communicative in relationships. Upon reading this book and reflecting upon some of my own experience with relationships, I realized I wanted to write a show that helped open people’s minds about different relationship styles.

R&B: So this is your MFA thesis. What decisions did you make in this show that you wouldn’t have done three years ago?

BM: Oh my god! I would’ve never even thought to write this show three years ago. As a performer, I often feel that actors are the most critical of themselves, and they have to be because, in this world, you’re constantly being judged. For a while, I believed in myself, but I didn’t have the courage. Coming to grad school and getting into this program, I felt like my goal here was to be a sponge and learn as much as I could. It felt like I was finally able to write a show without caring what other people think. I think that’s really important for people because we go through life for a while always so concerned with what society thinks. That’s really hard to break away from.

R&B: How has the coronavirus impacted the show’s development?

BM: Basically, because of COVID-19, our whole in-person season got canceled, so we had to figure out what we wanted to do for our thesis. I decided to write my own one-woman show because it seemed like doing theater by yourself was the safest. The thing that’s different about my show compared to the other MFA thesis shows is that my show is fully live every single night. I have a very small invited audience coming to Hendershot’s.There’s eight people maximum. The tables are socially distanced and everyone is required to wear masks. With a cabaret-comedy you need that live feedback; you need people to laugh. I hope that people streaming it from home will feel some of that energy coming from that audience.

R&B: How do you believe that this show challenges our conventional notions of sexuality?

BM: Fortunately, we’ve made a lot of progress in the world, but the conventional notion is that it is heterosexual, a man and a woman get into a relationship and get married. This show challenges that because it explores what it’s like to be in a relationship while being with other people. It encounters characters that I would say are more sexually fluid and not necessarily heterosexual or homosexual but somehwere in the middle. Challenging the conventional notions of sexuality and what relationships are and can be.

R&B: This is a cabaret. Can you tell me about the use of music in your show?

BM: I sing eight musical numbers in the show. I wanted to include a variety of musical genres. I wanted it to be accessible to many audience members, so even if they didn’t know one song they'd probably know another. I also wanted to show off versatility. This is my MFA thesis, [so] there’s a variety I wanted to be able to show in my singing as well. The songs push the story forward instead of being just for fun.

R&B: What do you want audiences to take away from this?

BM: My hope is that audiences will be able to reflect on their own lives and whether or not they want to live an ethically non-monogamous life or be an ethical slut. That’s not the point. The point is they just reflect on their own lives and wonder what they can learn from the character of Blake.