Polyamory play opens at Lincoln Center: "How to Transcend a Happy Marriage"
|That's Pip in the blue sweater.|
Positive polyamory, as a story theme, tonight becomes about as establishment as you can get in the theater world; New York's Lincoln Center calls itself "The world's leading performing arts center" and gets away with it. How to Transcend a Happy Marriage opens there this evening.
The promo blurb:
At a dinner party in the wilds of New Jersey, George (Marisa Tomei) and her husband talk with a fellow married couple about a younger acquaintance — a polyamorous woman (Lena Hall) who also hunts her own meat. Fascinated, they invite this mysterious woman and her two live-in boyfriends to a New Year’s Eve party which alters the course of their lives.
HOW TO TRANSCEND A HAPPY MARRIAGE explores the boundaries of monogamy and the limits of friendship. This new work asks what happens when parents let their wild sides come out of hibernation.
A video-vignette preview (44 seconds):
An interview with the lead actress, at TheaterMania:
Lena Hall Brings Polyamory to Lincoln Center
By Hayley Levitt
...Even more memorable, however, was her [2014 Tony Award] acceptance speech, which ended with the My Little Pony aphorism, "Friendship is magic." In a strange way, that same sentiment captures the essence of Sarah Ruhl's new fantastical play, How to Transcend a Happy Marriage, opening tonight at Lincoln Center....
...If we abide by Hall's calculations, expanding your circle of love and friendship can only make life more magical.
...Lena Hall: “I love the character, I love the ideas that are being talked about, and I felt like it would be fun to play something that was a little bit more closely related to me.... It's more rooted in who I am — you know, except for the polyamory. [laughs] ...I think maybe because of how I was raised by my hippie parents. It's cool to play a character that is so rooted in her own spirituality....
“We did a lot of research on polyamorous couples. We forget that love is not so one-person-based. There's something about physically being in a community of people that are relating to each other that is completely and utterly fulfilling. Romantic love is not all you're looking for. You're actually getting your fill of love from multiple sources. And a lot of people look — at least I looked, to feel loved and completed by a romantic partner only, and that can be very limiting. If you open up your bubble to include other people — and I'm not talking about sexually, I'm just talking about emotionally connecting to people — then you're not flying in the dark. No one has to be alone.
“There is a community out there for anyone and everyone if they want it. There's this focus on the sex aspect of polyamory because that's what everyone is more curious about. But I feel like the polyamorous movement is not all about sex. It's about having a bigger sense of family — a bigger sense of home.”
The whole interview (March 20, 2017).
● More promo material from the theater: pix, interviews, audio with the director — and an interview with the play's writer, Sarah Ruhl. Excerpt:
The final epigraph [at the beginning of the play's script] is the tersest: “Great sluts are made, not born.” It is taken from the 2009 volume The Ethical Slut: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships & Other Adventures, by Dossie Easton and Janet W. Hardy.
“A friend gave that book to me,” Ruhl said. “He thought I might be interested in it, and I was.” She went on: “I was fascinated by all the rules you need to construct a polyamorous life. There’s constant negotiation.” Ruhl explained that there are many brands of polyamory as defined by The Ethical Slut “including the free-love movements of the turn of the 20th century or of the 1960s.”
And there are many different cultural expressions of it: “For example, there’s a matriarchal society in Mongolia where the women have sex with as many men as they want. And among some of the nomadic groups in Tibet two brothers will share a wife. And, in the Bible, brothers share wives all the time. The difference with polyamory in the U.S. today is that ours is freely chosen. It’s not a part of a wider cultural norm.”
And how does all this relate to How To Transcend a Happy Marriage? “Audiences will soon see,” Ruhl said.
Update next day: A whole raft of reviews were published overnight. The play sounds... surreal.
Update May 5, as the show is about to close: TheaterMania interviews the star and the playwright: Marisa Tomei and Sarah Ruhl On Bringing a New Kind of Love to the Theater.