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Tiger Confessions' fantastic evolution towards live performance

If you ever wanted to hear a song with lyrics comprising solely of anonymous people’s opinions on eating ass, then all you needed to do was to be in 1903 basement at 8 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 4, before following the group to Edwards Hall upon being kicked out by another group that had reserved the basement just before 9 p.m. If you were there, you would have gotten to see Allison Spann ’20 bring to life a series of Tiger Confessions while she wore — among other items — purple boots, a floor-length black tulle skirt, and a shirt that could only be described as a multi-color Hawaiian shirt meets the Solo “Jazz” cup.

You may think I’ve taken this sentence straight out of an “SNL” Stefon skit, but it’s exactly what I experienced while attending Spann’s “Tiger Confessions: An Evening of Song and Dramatic Reading.” In fact, not only did I attend this devised performance, I also became a part of it, since Spann invited me to conduct the interview for this article during the performance. She explained that she was inspired to create this event by the Edwards Collective’s newsletter which lists the various endeavors taken on by the collective’s members.

Spann, however, decided to create a Facebook event so she could also invite her friends not in the Edwards Collective. After originally inviting only 10 or so friends, she woke up to approximately 150 people having said they were interested in attending. Ultimately, only between 30 and 40 people showed up to 1903 basement on Friday evening, before some were lost in the caravan to Edwards Hall.

The people who were in attendance were treated not only to individual confessions that were sung and read dramatically, as the event’s name promised, but also got to view numerous songs and skits constructed from multiple confessions around some concept. While all of this was happening, audience members watched David Timm ’22 spend the entire evening creating a colorful self portrait. The segments performed included the aforementioned bit of all the confessions about eating ass, the “Peanut Confessions” segment which consisted of Spann performing a compilation of confessions that include the word peanut while a video of her best friend, Jhor van der Horst ’20, eating a jar of peanut butter played in the background, and the heart-touching “Tiger Confessions Love Song” whose lyrics consisted solely of the one-line confessions of love.

With the assistance of Brenda Theresa Hayes ’22 Spann performed skits such as “Tiger Confessions Dating,” which took confessions and used them as the dialogue for a date. Another skit included “Tiger Confessions Q&A,” in which Spann and Hayes used confessions to answer other confessions written in the form of questions. And there was also “Tiger Confessions that Shouldn’t Have a Conversation” which resulted in a number of uncomfortable pairings of confessions, as the name implies.

The way Spann brought all of the Tiger Confessions she chose to life added humor more than anything else, but it also highlighted what gets lost in the anonymity of the original Facebook posts. For almost every confession she performed, Spann used her acting abilities to create the characters behind them, often highlighting how trivial the issues at the heart of the confessions can be. By collecting multiple confessions around some central themes, she presented the ways by which students in the campus community are connected, even if the connection is through something as quotidian as a peanut.

Reflecting back on the evening, I noticed the lack of confessions about serious topics such as loneliness, sexual assault, and other issues present on campus. But while bringing to life the confessions discussing these topics might result in an impactful event, they would not have fit the general tone of Spann’s event. 

“I chose only comments that I felt were light-hearted and humorous in their own right; my last want was to trivialize the pain of others,” Spann said in a message. She continued, “I was seeking to show how so much of the problems people post about are trivial. Bringing humor and remembering to not [take] yourself too seriously is the only way to survive this place, in my opinion.”

Earlier in the day I reached out to Christine Hu ’22, who is more widely known online as “Ty Ger,” the creator of Tiger Confessions. When asked about Spann’s event, she replied, “It’s honestly so exciting! I love that Allison had this idea; it makes me so happy to know that Tiger Confessions can inspire creative endeavors like this.” 

I also asked Hu if she ever expected to see such engagement with the Facebook group offline, to which she replied, “I personally have been interested in creating some kind of zine/comic/website related to Tiger Confessions, maybe in a ‘Year in Review’ format.” 

In a similar vein, Spann said she was open to holding future evenings of live Tiger Confessions, so long as the demand is there for it. I, for one, would be very excited to see where these ideas lead, as “Tiger Confessions: An Evening of Song and Dramatic Reading” was a wonderful way to blow off some steam at the end of a week of classes and enjoy the start of the weekend.

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