I’ve long been a fan of May Can Theatre and its three talented artists, Cory Thibert, Tony Adams and Madeleine Boyes-Manseau. They’re young and fearless, so I was quite excited to hear that they were bringing their “Jerk It” project to this year’s edition of the undercurrents festival. I was even more excited when they asked me to be one of their readers.
The idea behind the project was straightforward: to present readings of a series of anonymously crowd-sourced first-hand accounts of masturbation. Each story was given to a different reader – generally with no regard to gender. So when I received my story I discovered that mine was about a young woman. It wasn’t particularly racy, either. Rather, it was a sad and poignant tale about coming of age.
Each presentation featured different readers and stories. In my case, I shared the stage with three other readers – Cory, as well as Peter Froehlich and Catriona Leger, both of whom I’ve worked with on other projects. Each story was unique and wonderfully presented by the readers, and I’m sure many in the audience would agree that the readings were a highlight of the festival.
For myself, it was a (rare) occasion to stand on the stage rather than off to the side and to present someone else’s work rather than my own. While it was fun, it was also a reminder of how intimate the relationship is between the written words and the oral interpretation of them. I will never know who wrote the story I read, but I feel a connection to her and did my best to do her words justice.