Happy birthday! Samantha Johns hosts a panel talk to help her figure out her post-20s life


Some people throw a party for their 30th birthday. Samantha Johns is putting on a show, called i’ve never been alive this long before. The director and theater instigator will be hosting a performance on Friday at the Black Forest Inn in order to figure out what she should do with her life now that she has finally reached the big 3-0. 

“I feel like there are these social constructs around the notion of not being in your 20s anymore,” Johns says. “Thirty is a stupid marker, but it’s also a real marker. It’s real because… I don’t know what to do with my life.” 

For the piece, Johns is putting together a panel made up of everyone from her significant other to people from the theater and arts community who she doesn’t know very well. There will be questions and answers, discussion, and movement sections and games. The group includes Kathy Jo Ackerman Johns, Lisa Channer, Rye Gentleman, Emma Barber, George McConnell, Colleen Lamb, Maren Ward, Corrie Zoll, Kevin Kirsch, and Dario Tangelson.

Since she doesn’t like asking for help, Johns figured that she’d just as well invent a show around a subject that people aren’t typically vulnerable or honest about.

While the 10 panelists are specifically focusing on Johns and what she should do with her personal life and her career in her 30s, she says the questions can be applied generally.

Johns doesn’t perform in the show beyond a welcoming speech. The 10 panelists will rehearse earlier in the day, have dinner, and then perform.


“They all have an outline,” she says. Besides the panel discussion, each performer will have a specific task in the show as well. For instance, actor/director Dario Tangelson, who doesn’t know Johns well, will interview the panel to find out more about her.

As for the set, “there’s a lot of pink plastic,” Johns says. “I’m taking these plastic garbage bags and filling them with air and making lanterns.”

While Johns expects the evening to be fun and funny for the audience, she assumes it's going to be hard for her personally. “I don’t understand why I’m doing this to myself,” she says.


i've never been alive this long before

Doors are at 7 p.m. Friday, August 7

Black Forest Inn's banquet room

1 E. 26th St., Minneapolis.

$1-$5 (cash only)