Dec 19, 2014

Lets talk about sex... and disability! Reflections on 'Fully Functional'

Members of the Right 2 Love Group got together to talk about "Fully Functional" a performance about sex and disability. 

“Courageous, relate-able, brave, roller coaster, stampede, commitment, opinionated, freedom, liberating, sensuous, steamy, serious, amusing, fun, challenging, humbling, eye-opening, humanizing, pleasure, mind-blowing, fear, boundary pushing.”
-Poem by the Right 2 Love Group

Fully Functional, a performance about sex and disability, photo by Chantal Wall

A few months back playwrights Col and Mark came to the Right to Love Group and asked us “What really needs to be in upcoming Fully Functional Performance regarding sexuality and disability?” When Right to Love members shared their ideas , we were delighted to see how the earlier conversations were woven into the personal stories of the performers held from December 3rd until December 6th at the Pump house Theatre in Calgary, Alberta.

 “Fully Functional” is a show that blends dance and storytelling in order to tell a story of sex, disability and sensuality that rarely gets talked about. The show played to nearly sold out audiences including during the International Day of Disabled Persons. Col reported at the end of the each performance most of the audience members also stayed for the talk back to ask questions of the artists. “It felt like the talkbacks could have gone on longer” says performer Thomas Poulsen. “The show also created safety in an interesting active way and became a place for people to stand up and share their experience with something personal” says Diana Wark of the Calgary Sexual Health Centre, a sex positive organization that partners with the Right to Love Group. “Many of our staff attended the performance and were excited by what they saw, thrilled to watch and everyone loved it as it pushed people out of their comfort zones. The audiences supportive understanding and at time were in tears, showed us how much we as a society moved forward in the last five to seven years listening to the vast amount of experiences of sex and disability.”

Mary Salvani spoke of how some of her friends did not understand the full impact of Albertans still needing a doctor’s note to get married under the current marriage act: “People learned may also affect a person with mental health, it was a good conversation. My class talked about it for hours after the performance.”


“I feel like it is not really over” echoes another performer, Emily Hutcheon. “Many people ask when the play is going to happen again or if it the play is going to be published. There seems to be a lot of interest to share these stories and the many untold stories of people.” Stephen Henry also had this to say about performing in the show “This feels like home. The theater was someplace to hang out, be in the show and sort of like buying a house, packing up and having to move out.”

Congratulations to all the performers and collaborators! 

If you are interested in supporting more stories being told about healthy sexuality, people can contact Momo and Inside Out Theatre to help with the next steps. And if you want more sex positive information, counselling and workshops about healthy sexuality, please feel free to contact the Calgary Sexual Health Centre.

To learn of the next steps of Fully Functional and collaboration of the artists, visit Inside Out Theatre and MoMo Dance Theatre.

Links to Media Coverage of Fully Functional: 

Fully Functional Starts a Conversation About Disability, Sexuality, and Society by Rodrigo Flores, December 11, 2014

 

Fully Functional blends dance and storytelling to explore disability and sexuality by Stephen Hunt, Calgary Herald, December 2nd, 2014 




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