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A Little Bit Not Normal:


With her trademark humor, Arlene confronts her own state of mind when Depression walks into her kitchen, lights a cigarette and makes himself at home. A Little Bit Not Normal is a serious comedy about depression and naming it, claiming it and standing to be counted. It’s a 60 year old secret revealed at a family wedding, a paper bag containing 28cents, the journey of a love story tested and the secrets we keep about crazy.

On a mostly bare stage Arlene creates vivid worlds for the audience to walk into and embodies 10 distinct characters including her Deaf parents, a cavalcade of doctors and her rockstar husband.

One in four Americans will suffer from some kind of mental illness sometime in their life; depression, anxiety, addiction, bipolar, PTSD, OCD. It can range from mild to severe but most crippling is the shame and stigma that surrounds it. This play reflects the impact of mental health challenges on the person who lives with it along with the people who love and try to understand them, spouses, kids, parents, neighbors, co-workers and friends. The play opens a portal to conversations that are often shrouded in secrecy.

*Banner photo: Liz Lauren

While the play has been booked as purely entertainment on it’s own at Performing Arts Centers and Theaters I am honored that this one-person show has become part of a bigger conversation around mental illness. Offerings include:

• “A Little Bit Not Normal” (The play can be tailored to Theaters, Performing Arts centers schools and colleges, conferences and organizations)
• Talk back sessions around the themes in the play. Talk back sessions around the themes in the play. We bring the performance and follow up Q & A or group discussions to caregivers, support communities, universities, hospitals, and conferences. Mental Illness affects the entire family.
• “Telling Your Story” Workshops with community members.
• Master classes at Colleges/Universities
• Keynote and empowerment talks for conferences
• “Telling Your Story” Workshops with community members.

The show is 75 minutes long with sound and lights if technology allows. I also have a version of the play that is 55 minutes long . The work has been performed everywhere from theaters to gyma/cafa/toriums. Referrals upon request.

*Video: For Closed Captions, hit the CC button.


It takes a rare talent to get so many laughs into eighty minutes while also vividly describing frustration and despair, but in a form worthy of the existentialist.
Malinowski is well-informed as an advocate and has clearly come to the conclusion that the best way to erase the stigma is to refuse to grant it rarefied stuff. All-baring honesty, enormous heart, and the blackest of humor.
— Jacob Davis (Picture This Post) - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Thoroughly compelling. The rise and fall of Malinowski’s depression is the centerpiece but it’s surrounded by a detailed backdrop of family dynamics. Malinowski also keeps a sense of humor... Its humor is pitch dark to be sure…Malinowski plays various members – including her deaf parents – with wonderful vividness.
— Catey Mick (Chicago Reader)
Her presence on stage proves that depression is not only NOT a downfall, but also a reason to venture back into the real world and tell your truth.
— Karin McKie (Third Coast Review)
She is charismatic and joyful even in the darkest moments of her story. She tells it with grace and humor that is never self-pitying only self-aware.
— Alan Bresloff (About Town Chicago) - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
I had to write you to tell you that when I saw this play, I saw myself. For the first time I was able to put into words what it feels like to be me. My husband and I had a meaningful conversation in the car about my depression. Thank you.
— Heather (Victory Gardens audience member)