I’m entering the second week of rehearsals for my play, Hi! How Are You! How’s Your Sex Life? at Boston University. I emphasize that, even though the majority of readers assumably have an affiliation with the school. But I want to point out is that this play is going up in the heart of the New England region of this country, and will play to a majority of likeminded liberals. This makes characters in my play like Greta, the former professor, and Eliza, the former academic, reasonably more relatable to this presumed audience. We are performing in a university, therefore having characters who are a part of one is not too foreign a concept.
Then how will this audience perceive Crystal, the Indiana born and bred All-American sweetheart who was shamed of her own sexual desires at a young age? I’ve noticed in rehearsals that Crystal is the character that seems the most foreign, and oftentimes the most humorous character in the play for a New England production. Which makes me wonder, if this play were to be performed in any one of the “flyover” states, would Crystal seem the most relatable? I wrote Crystal based on my experiences growing up as an early teen in Missouri. I’m now watching many of my former classmates get married in college, and have children by 23. This sounds bananas to me now, as someone about to graduate BU with no desire to “settle down” until I’m at least 30 and armed with a couple PhD’s. This makes me wonder, how does this play change if we change the location in which it is performed?
This play purposefully does not contain one clear protagonist. But if I were to stage this play in Boston, Texas, Utah, and California, which character would audience members most identify with? I think the answer might shift with each geographic region. That’s not something that scares me as a playwright, rather I find that really liberating. I believe that when a play is performed, it is not just my story onstage, but rather a shared experience around the story. So if different audience members are drawn to particular characters, that’s a story all on its own. In an ideal world, I would workshop this production across the US. But with a name like Hi! How Are You! How’s Your Sex Life? I might have to tread lightly.