Molly Brennan

by The Bathtub Project


Date of Interview: June 13th, 2017

Name: Molly Brennan

Age: 46

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers or any mistakes made without malice

Location: Chicago, IL


How often do you bathe or shower?

These days I don’t take a lot of baths. I’m also not a huge showerer. I take a shower, maybe every three days.

If you were an underwater creature what would you be?

Elasmosaurus. It’s a water dinosaur. The Loch Ness Monster. Just classic long neck. I like dinosaurs a lot. I love the notion of a real creature still being alive. So the idea of the Loch Ness Monster is really cool to me [laughter].

What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about not harming. I don’t want to harm. That’s a core value. It’s a struggle. I am aggressive with a real fighty instinct. I fail a lot. So that’s one thing. In terms of how-I-spend-my-time passionate, I’m an actor and a theater maker and a performer and a clown.  

What got you into theater?

I grew up in a really story based legend and myth based family. My mother is an actress, and my father is a great consumer of literature and performing arts, so it was always part of my life. And I decided to do it as a living because I couldn’t think of another thing that I’d rather do. My favorite way to be with people is live performance.  

Do you think that there is community within theater?

There is community within theater yes, I think so. And it’s huge in Chicago. I mean, the Chicago community is huge. Within that are subsets of tribes that I have definitely found among the artists, the production people, the audience, –so, yeah. A larger culture and then subcultures, and I’m very happy with a lot of the values of some of the subcultures of theater and performing arts in Chicago.  

What does community mean to you?

Community is why we’re here. This thing about not harming being really important to me – taking care of each other – it’s very painful to be here for most people. It’s very painful to just live. Things are hard. Things are always hard. Things feel really hard right now. But you die eventually and you suffer a lot before that. Community is a way to keep ourselves healthy. Keep ourselves engaged. Take care of each other and find health and joy.

What is something that you feel accomplished with?

I feel like I’ve done a pretty good job sticking to my values as I’ve navigated an industry which often asks you to compromise. I’ve been able to do this work at a professional level while criticizing some of the problems of the system and fighting some of the problems of what happens everywhere and in the spaces of the little communities that I roll around in.

What is something you still struggle with?

I struggled with depression. I’m clinically depressed and suicidal. And it’s a daily exercise to keep myself in a functioning, generous, and productive place. My self-care involves exercise, eating well – I’m a healthy eater – and getting out and doing things for my friends or with my friends, doing things for other people, and committing. I’ve found over the years, and years, and years, the role of therapy, and medication, and treatments, and things, the thing that actually keeps me alive, literally keeps me alive is committing to something that people are depending on me for. If I commit to something, I will show up for it. If I have nothing to do, then I really fall off. So I get involved in a lot of stuff, commit to it, and often, have the needs of other people in there somewhere.

What do you think of relationships platonic, sexual, and otherwise?

I feel like we, as a society and– I lived in the United States my whole life, so I don’t know how it is everywhere– But here, I feel like we don’t actually know those things. I feel like I’m only learning about relationships now. And I’m almost 50 years old. But there are  marketed relationships in everything: through the entertainment that we consume, the products that they’re selling to us. There’s this kind of agenda of what relationships are. And I feel like I’m only recently discovering what a good relationship is, a healthy relationship, a valuable relationship. I mean, I would describe my relationship with my lovers as being largely problematic throughout my whole life mostly because of trying to make whatever was happening fit the narrative. And I think what I’ve discovered is that narrative is false. And so discovering with a romantic partner the reality is kind of where I’m at now, I think, with the person I’m with. We’ve been together for three years, and I feel like we’re figuring out what relationship is.

And then, outside of those kinds of relationships, I have great relationship with my parents and my sister. We’re very close. And then, I have some really good friends. And those, my family and my friendships, have all been well-cared for through the problems, through the conflict, through difficulty and with a commitment to keep certain people in my life that are important to me. And I’ve let a lot of people go, people I am and I’m not related, so yeah, yeah, making, kind of lifting the veil and realizing there is no way to match what you see and observe. This is not real: the kind of mass marketing relationship with anyone, your mother, with your kid, with your lover, with your lovers. And in terms of the discovery that it seems like a lot of folks are making now, especially younger people seems to be faster and more immediate, maybe. Then, people of my generation– I mean, in terms of the amount of people who are healthfully non-monogamous, for instance, seems like  in that area we’re evolving, and I really have a lot of admiration for that and have a belief in evolution and change.