Beside Ourselves Collective is Eleanor Young and Kate Mounce. They performed an extract of Just Don’t Do It as a part of CPT’s Hotbed Fest in May. They are brimming with excitement to bring the full show back after a two-week run at Edinburgh Free Fringe this year. Below Kate talks about why sex and the Church has been an electric theatrical pairing. Just Don’t Do It is a part of our Autumn 2017 programme on Fri 6 – Sat 7 Oct at 7.15pm.
When we decided to make a show about our experiences growing up as girls in the Church and the impressions we were left with about sexuality and sex, particularly the pre-marital kind, we thought it was a really good idea. We didn’t know anyone tackling 2 of the big 3 life themes who were practising Christians.
Theatre made by Christians that we knew of typically tended to be issue-based pieces with a very clear message or biographies of heroic figures within the church. As you might imagine, none of these productions talked about female sexual desire and few had central female characters. Until 2009, the only theatre that I’d seen talk about women, sex and the Church largely involved wailing Catholics in nighties and abusive nuns. Those stories are important, of course, but we felt there was more to be said.
In 2009, I performed in Chloe Austin’s ‘Virgins: Sex, God and The Six Inch Rule’, a contemporary Christian take on the Vagina Monologues. It was an experience that paved some of the way for me to talk openly about the complex triumvirate which continues to perplex me to this day and is the major thrust, if you’ll excuse the pun, of Just Don’t Do It; singleness, sex and (Christian) faith. As a teenager, I would have told you that the second of the three words doesn’t belong there, but that’s really what this show is about.
It wasn’t long into our rehearsal process that Eleanor and I realised why there weren’t many (or any) practising Christian companies making shows about this topic. Sexuality is the proverbial bar of soap or slippery eel resisting definition, and nevermore so than now. It’s also, of course, profoundly personal. For us it’s been something of a beautiful minefield, especially as we don’t share the same beliefs or life experiences. To quote one of my life gurus, Chandler from “Friends”: ‘Can open. Worms everywhere’.
Do we regret ever starting? Hell no. Well, mostly no, and only when we’ve both fallen into holes of exhaustion and despair trying to come to some sort of artistic agreement.
I think the thing is, making theatre is a helluva lot like faith and a hell of a faith process. You get inspired, deep in your guts, and then you stumble into the unknown. I wouldn’t have it any other way.