What sex education doesn't prepare you for
Sex in Real Life is the arresting title of a show by Madeline Shann which is being premiered on Friday.
The Sheffield theatre maker, choreographer, writer and performer developed the piece during an artistic residency at Barnsley Civic where it will be seen as part of its New Work Weekend.
Sex and sex education are explored through dance, physicality, comedy, text and music by a cast of eight.
“I got the idea from a Reddit thread on social media where they were asking what you learned in sex which you wished someone had told you before,” she explains.
With Arts Council Grants for the Arts funding she researched the project through interviews, questionnaires and testimonies from sexual health workers, educators, and individuals. “Most were just hilarious and embarrassing but some of it was quite moving and it struck me there was a paradox that sex is so over-hyped and yet there were lots of things people were shocked to discover when they experienced it.” She then auditioned for four female and four male performers.
Sex in Real Life consists of eight stories about couples, some man-woman, some same sex, with the cast contributing their own experiences and perspectives as the work evolved.
“There is a mix in that some have dialogue, some are pure dance, some physical theatre. Some of the vignettes are complex and it was nice to play around to find the best medium,” says Madeline.
“It’s about sex education and the failure to educate and what kind of relationships are normal, It does go into darker areas such as consent and refusal, but it also touches on confidence, preference, diversity and joy.”
Madeline Shann says she got the theatre bug while at school (King Ecgbert’s). “Then I did a drama degree at Exeter University and it was during that time I fell in love with choreography.
She followed that up by taking a post-graduate course with Jasmin Vardimon (whose company she had seen performing at the Lyceum in Sheffield) while taking part in the flourishing dance scene in Bristol.
Eventually she moved back to her home city and while working part-time at Marks and Spencer developed her career in performance and choreography.
Sex in Real Life, along with Debs Gatenby’s A Place Called Happiness, form the first part of New Work Weekend at The Civic on Friday and Saturday