By Annie McNamee, First Year Film & English
The year is 1972. The air is thick with free love, acid, and Bowie- and awkward teens discovering sex for the first time.
This is how the directors of Bristol Dramsoc’s production of 1972: The Future of Sex described the play to me when I attended a rehearsal in March. Maui and Calypso, who are studying Liberal Arts and Vet Med respectively, are both relatively new to directing. It is both of their first times co-directing, which is (unintentionally) very on brand for the play they’ve chosen, which contains themes of discovery and finding yourself.
They explained to me why they picked this play in particular: ‘[Calypso] saw it at the Fringe and I just loved it immediately. I mean it was just so much fun, but also still so relevant today. I wanted to be a part of that!’
The play follows three young couples and one individual who are exploring their identities and sexualities together, with each being in a different type of relationship. Anna and Tessa are a queer couple who are not only navigating young love, but being queer in the 1970s. Rich and Christine are both new to sex and intimacy. Penny is in love with her cool, feminist, not-like-other-guys lecturer Martin. Anton is just trying to come to terms with his identity. There is a rich scope of stories being told, aided by an equally rich and engaged cast.
Watching a rehearsal, I was able to see first-hand just how collaborative the production process had been. Every actor was able to speak to me in detail about what their character brought to the play, and why they loved them. Oshi, who plays Anton, had a particular connection to their character, ‘I love being Anton. The character is such an interesting look into how we present to the world, versus how others see us,’ adding, ‘and I love wearing lippy!’
When originally produced by Bristol based Theatre Company The Wardrobe Ensemble in 2015, there were only 7 cast members, each playing multiple characters. Maui and Calypso have seen this cast double in size, ‘We wanted to give the opportunity to as many people as possible, and just get loads of people involved.’ This is the mission statement which echoes throughout the rehearsal room and onto the stage: inclusivity and fun is at the heart of the production for everyone involved.
From disco dancing scenes on stage, to the brownies I was offered as I walked in, it was clear that the play was about letting loose and enjoying yourself. ‘The 70s were a time of liberation,’ Maui explains, ‘Gay pride, the contraceptive pill. It was a decade defined by progress.’ These concerns are of course, for better or worse, still hugely relevant. Those fights aren't over, making the play a delightful blend of vintage sunglasses and contemporary struggles, easily juggling the harder conversations with humour and boogying.
For anyone with an interest in 70s culture, ABBA, or exciting new theatre, this is certainly a must-see.
1972: The Future of Sex is being performed at the Tobacco Factory from the 25-27th of April, and you can buy tickets by clicking here.
Featured Image: Courtesy of Annie McNamee
Have you got your tickets for Dramsoc's new production 1972: The Future of Sex?