Pair the "sexual revolution" and a wave of feminism with the culture of the mid-70s in Canada, and unconventional things are bound to occur.
"Sex with Feminists" is a new comedic play written by award-winning Canadian playwright John Lazarus that takes the audience back to this historical overlap. UT students have been given the opportunity to witness this developing story with Lazarus visiting campus this week, leading up to a staged reading of the unproduced play this Saturday.
Lazarus was born in Montreal and trained at the National Theatre School of Canada to be an actor, but later transitioned into play writing when he decided he could write a better play than the ones he had been acting in. He now teaches playwriting at Queen's University in Ontario.
"Though Canada has long traditions in most art forms, we did not have much of a tradition in professional theater or playwriting until the 1970s," Lazarus said. "I was part of a pioneer generation; I had no mentors, so I'm self-taught."
Lazarus' plays have been produced across Canada and the United States, as well as in England, France, Germany, Italy, Israel and Japan. His best-known play is a comedy based on Jewish folklore called "Village of Idiots," and his latest play, "The Grandkid," is on the way to publication and will soon receive its second production.
Now, he is ready to bring to life a play that he has been working on for five years with a staged reading performed by MFA acting students in the theatre department, who were selected for their program after more than a thousand auditions across the U.S. "It's about a young couple who get involved with another woman who's active in the feminist community," Lazarus said. "'Sex with Feminists' has its serious side, but I hope there are a lot of laughs."
Jed Diamond, head of acting in the theatre department, has been involved in a script workshop this week with Lazarus and numerous theatre students.
"He has a style that combines great humor with depth of human stories in rich socio-political contexts," Diamond said. "The play illuminates the interplay of our ideologies and our drives, our conscious ideas and our unconscious actions, our wishes and our realties, and our vision and blindness. It does so in a way that is both very funny and moving."
Both Diamond and Lazarus see this opportunity as a perfect opening for the upcoming Sex Week on campus, and they urge students to attend.
"It's a great story, a fun time and something that will reflect upon their own lives in very thought provoking ways," Diamond said.
Lazarus said he believes students should attend to see the wonderful actors, and for the possibility of a fun date night due to its romantic comedic nature.
"It's a look at my generation at the age that most students are now, which today's students might find interesting," Lazarus said. "The sexual behavior, the politics and the beginnings of a feminist movement that seems to be out of fashion these days, but that did make some progress in our culture."
The staged reading is Saturday, Jan. 25, at 7:30 p.m. in room 109 of the Art & Architecture auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.