The art of politics and emotions

Back in the summer of 2013, Sunny Drake and I got together to host A Hot Mess. In the salon walls of Unit 2, we invited a selection of queeroes whose opinion we respected to give feedback on our newest plays. It was quite the foreshadowing: My play, The Femme Playlist, was later presented as part of Buddies’ season in 2014. Sunny’s play, No Strings (Attached) has recently been announced as part of this year’s season. In the room was Gein Wong, who would later be named the production’s director and myself, who became the play’s dramaturge. Cue random throwing of glitter into air. Cue cheerleaders clad in pink leopard printed daisy dukes emerging from a gender-neutral washroom. It was a queer salon at its best. Intimate, respectful, daring.

But that’s beside the point. I need to tell you about the faces in that room as Sunny’s one-person tour-de-force unfolded. I need to tell you about how with each new scene, the fibres of our understanding of love, of relationships, of our responsibility in the demise of said relationships dissolved into a puddle of tears and laughter at our feet. With sharp humour lessening the blow, we watched as the building blocks of our poisonous patterns in romance were demolished, the detritus of our love disasters examined for all to see.

In one of the most remarkable moments in the play, the character Jimmy is confronted by the anti-monogamy police for his experiences of jealousy despite being a card carrying member of the queer radical relationships club and an avid reader of The Ethical Slut.

“I’m not really that jealous! I’m good at open relationships. Sometimes I help my dates compose text messages to their other dates. I’m not that jealous! Look, as long as everybody likes me the best I’m fine!” Jimmy tries to explain before he is sentenced to a public shaming.

I think this was when our audience began grabbing at their faces, pulling their cheeks downward in Edvard Munch style, screaming at the sight of themselves onstage. Just because poly is sooooo evolved didn’t mean it was going to be sooooo easy. It’s more like so many of us have fucked up sooooo badly trying to live and love in abundance. I know I have. Even typing this sentence has the hairs on the back of my head standing on end thinking of all the exes who will read this saying in unison “You sure did, bitch.”

What I will tell you, and all of you exes out there, is this: being this play’s dramaturge was a blessing. I know that may sound like an infomercial but this is truth. I learned so damn much reading this play over and over again while being honoured enough to act as theatrical guide to the most talented Sunny Drake in his writing of it. Yes, I may have cried a wee bit. I may have lit the biggest phatty to smoke out my own realizations in queer relationship madness. I may have burned a photo. Or two. Or three. But really and truly, I learned so much. I would even go so far to say that his play was the centre piece square in the quilt of my love learning, which has led me here to this place where I am very happily monogamous, knowing all the reasons why I want to be so, in a grounded partnership with my fiance.

I know many of you are reading this last paragraph thinking “Bitch, are you trying to tell me this playwright/performer thinks he’s going to wave around this puppet, maybe have a conversation with some projections and somehow change my love life?” To which my answer is, “Yes, bitch. Drink that in a pint of ‘hells yes’ followed by a shot of ‘fuckin’ A’.” This play is the burning effigy of our patterns; the critical look at our politics in the face of our emotions; the forgiveness of our past for the sake of our heart’s future; the most beautiful dance cheek to cheek with our most delicate version of ourselves under the light of the moon.

Catherine Hernandez

Catherine Hernandez is playwright, performer and award-winning author. She is the author of M is for Mustache: A Pride ABC Book (Flamingo Rampant) and Scarborough (Arsenal Pulp Press). She is the Artistic Director of b current performing arts.

Read all posts by Catherine Hernandez

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