Sex and The Wooster Group

“The synonymy of desire and terror has become the mark of a guilt and self-loathing that is never purged.”

The Wooster Group is a theatre company in New York that goes out of its way to toe the line and cross boundaries. They read original plays such as Our Town andThe Crucible and transform them into productions which test everything a society believes about itself. They use unconventional methods, such as blackface and pornography, simply because it makes the point that they are trying to make, never mind that it is despised or looked down upon my much of the population. To be clear, this is not the type of performing I would like to do as I prefer my acting to be a little more straightforward, but I love The Wooster Group because they don’t care what the rest of society thinks. They take theatre to a completely different level which is experimental and often does not make sense at first glance, but when you look beneath the surface you see a social commentary which isn’t afraid to stand up and tell the world that it is wrong. They are also theatrically fascinating because they are experimental and, hence, different. They don’t just use the stage; they use the entire theatre and often the performing space in the upstairs section of their performing garage as well as TV monitors and other forms of media. While their work may not be to everyone’s taste, they must be given credit for the incredible amount of creativity and thought that they put into every performance.

In Route 1 & 9, a performance centered on Our Town, The Wooster Group challenged, among other things, the middle class American, suburban beliefs about sex. They showed that, because sex is repressed by parents and schools, desire becomes synonymous with fear and young people, especially young women, are not sure what they want because everything they feel that is good also terrifies them. While I agree with this and believe that sex should be discussed openly as the beautiful shared experience that it is, I have to say that desire and fear, when it comes to sex, are often synonymous even if sex is not taboo. While hiding sex behind some mysterious and forbidden curtain causes people to fear what they feel, being completely open about sex can cause someone to fear their own abilities. They’re not sure they’ll be good enough or they don’t know what they want because there seem to be too many possibilities; however, this does not necessarily mean that fear is a bad thing. People should be open about sex so that their children and partners know what to expect and know that it is okay to feel the way they feel. Being scared is part of the magic. When you’re terrified of what will happen next and it turns out the experience is as wonderful as you hoped it would be, it feels even better because you get the dual pleasure of the disappearance of your fear and the pleasure that comes with good sex. People, as a rule, will always be scared of a new experience. It doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with that experience or with talking about it.

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