Portrait of an Artist: Mira Pickus ’25
April 7, 2023
From Purity Pact to Masque & Gown, Mira Pickus ’25 has made an impact on Bowdoin’s stage within her first two years on campus. Pickus is best known for her comedic roles as a sketch and stand-up performer in Purity Pact, a comedy group made up of women and non-binary students on campus, but her work has touched countless aspects of the theater community from acting to technical design.
Before coming to Bowdoin, Pickus had little experience in sketch and stand-up comedy. However, when she saw the comical Purity Pact recruitment posters as a first-year, she knew she wanted to be a part of the group. Reflecting on her time at Bowdoin, Pickus noted that some of her best memories have been after Purity Pact shows.
“I’m very glad I auditioned. It’s probably the best decision I’ve made at Bowdoin,” Pickus said. “The energy after the sketch and stand-up shows is the best feeling ever. They’re usually the best two nights of my semester.”
Pickus finds Purity Pact particularly meaningful because it is a space where she gets to collaborate with talented and supportive women who bring out the best in her creative work.
“I find the writing process really fun, especially when people are pitching ideas for sketches.… It feels like how you imagine a writers room on SNL, but it’s all women,” Pickus said. “It’s really unique to have such a feminine space [for comedy].”
Furthermore, Pickus highlighted Purity Pact’s exploration of personal topics that are otherwise considered too vulgar to discuss in public spheres, especially for women.
“We talk about embarrassing topics like sex, mental health, breakups and relationships. The content doesn’t always have to be serious, but we are all working to refine this tool of humor that can be such an effective way to talk about things that are really taboo and really hard,” Pickus said.
Pickus believes that writing and performing comedy sketches that deal with personal topics can be a scary yet cathartic experience. Sharing experiences that are often kept silent serves as an outlet for Pickus but also opens up larger campus debate and builds community.
“I’m usually trying to talk about something personal with the aim of giving myself some therapeutic relief and with the hope that it gives other people therapeutic relief as well,” Pickus said. “It’s incredibly freeing to be really vocal about stuff that’s so personal, and often so feminine—maybe even anatomical—and just making the world deal with it.”
In addition to her Purity Pact performances, Pickus has also performed in several Masque & Gown productions including her most recent performance in “Happy Heterosexual Summer.” The play was written by Julia Jennings ’23 and voted the best play at this year’s One Act Play Festival by audience members.
Leader of Masque & Gown Sinclaire Ledahl ’23 commented on Pickus’s propensity for acting.
“Mira might be the most fearless performer I’ve ever worked with. She exudes energy onstage and in every step of the rehearsal process. She gets everyone involved with new warm up games and commits wholeheartedly to her characters from day one,” Ledahl said.
Pickus also utilizes her on-stage experience in the work study program and designed the costumes for “A Raisin in the Sun” this March. She described how working in both the technical and acting side of theater fulfills her in ways that separating the two experiences cannot.
“I just really enjoy being in the theater space and contributing to the shows. I like to have the tech side along with my acting side because I feel like it tickles different parts of my brain, and I’m happiest when I’m doing both,” Pickus said.
Pickus acknowledged that being involved in all aspects of production is something unique about Bowdoin theater and that many students explore a variety of roles from technical design and directing to performing.
“I think that makes for a much more cohesive and inclusive theatrical space because everybody understands what everyone else is bringing to the table. It also just speaks to people’s talents here because they can go from designing lights to writing a play to giving a performance,” Pickus said.
While continuing with Purity Pact, Pickus hopes to put her various talents and experiences towards directing a production next year. Purity Pact performed its spring stand-up show Thursday night in the Pub and will have its sketch-show later in the spring.
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