About This Project
The Sex Myth: A Devised Play sparks transformative conversations about sexuality amongst audiences and performers - proving that the pleasurable isn't just deeply personal, but also political.
We’re building an international movement that ignites these urgent conversations, starting with a production in New York City in the second half of 2017, and followed by a surge of 20 grassroots and professional performances around the globe over the following 12 months. But we can’t do it without your help.
We are told that the sexual revolution happened decades ago, and that we’re living in a time of unprecedented liberation. But for too many of us, sex is still a subject bound up in pain and anxiety – whether our shame is that we are “too” sexual, or that we are not sexual enough.
Borrowing themes and styles from plays like The Vagina Monologues, The Sex Myth draws out the humans beneath the stereotypes, mixing original and personal monologues with collaboratively-created vignettes to challenge and redefine our perceptions of what is “normal” when it comes to sex. But instead of professional actors “safely” performing other people’s stories, our cast share their own real-life experiences and performs their own truths.
The Sex Myth isn’t just a fun and sexy theatre-going experience (although it can be if that’s what you want from it). It’s also a tool for activism, education, and consciousness raising. The play is devised using a set of processes rather than a set script, meaning that the show is recreated each time it is performed to include the personal and diverse experiences of each new cast. Audience members witness brave performers sharing their own stories about sex in all its messy, funny, daring, mundane, violent, vicious and loving glory. In turn, this creates a unique, personal and shockingly original experience with each production.
Do you believe we need to redefine what “normal” is when it comes to sex? Do you want folks to trust their own bodies, desires, and partners regardless of what the world is telling us?
Help us spread these essential conversations across the United States and around the world. Join the movement and Break #TheSexMyth.
The Sex Myth: A Devised Play grew out of the book The Sex Myth: The Gap Between Our Fantasies and Reality by Rachel Hills, an international journalist and feminist activist based in New York City.
Rachel’s fascination with the politics and sociology of sex stemmed from her own feelings of shame and anxiety when it came to sexuality. An avid reader of feminist non-fiction, she wanted to write a book that would help others put their experiences in a bigger cultural context, the same way the books she loved had helped her.
Since The Sex Myth was published in 2015, Rachel has spent the last 18 months taking her message to groups across the United States, Australia, and the UK. It was at one of these talks that Rachel met Hanne Larsen, a theatre major at Northeastern University in Boston, who came to her with the idea of turning The Sex Myth into a play.
When Rachel saw the play performed for the first time at Northeastern in June 2016, she was enthralled. It was a thrill to see the ideas she had spent the better part of a decade researching turned into something new in another person’s hands.
But the play also opened up for the possibility for something bigger than that.
The Sex Myth: A Devised Play provided a framework for people to engage with The Sex Myth not just as readers, or as participants in an afternoon-long workshop, but as owners and creators of their own stories.
Audiences at the theatre could hear and feel the stories from the actual cast members and engage deeper than they would by reading people’s stories quoted on the page. The fact that the play was devised rather than scripted meant that the play could be regenerated, changing its shape to fit the needs and stories of the communities performing it. It meant that a show produced in Australia could be different to one created in Alabama, and that a performance done in 2017 could evolve into something new in 2027 as the culture changes.
As an experienced activist motivated by the power of feminist consciousness raising. Rachel sensed immediately that the fluidity of the play meant it could truly capture the zeitgeist of a culture, and therefore effect powerful change.
Now we’re working to take the project to the next level. Dana Edell, co-director of SPARKMovement, a professor in Theatre and Activism at NYU and the director of 70+ feminist, devised theatre productions, will direct the first major production of the show in at HERE Theater in New York City in the second half of 2017. We’re in the process of pulling together an incredible ensemble of local performers, thinkers, and activists.
Most importantly, we’ve set up the infrastructure for you to participate in our growing international movement, with the creation of The Sex Myth: Playbook and Director’s Guide, and a set of rights packages for schools, activist groups, and commercial producers. The Sex Myth is about providing a platform for diverse voices, and we want your voice involved.
Meet our team
Rachel Hills – Producer
Rachel Hills is a New York-based (born in Sydney, Australia) journalist, activist and author of THE SEX MYTH, who is interested in the space where the personal meets the political, or what she calls "the politics of everyday life." Rachel’s work has been published in the New York Times, Washington Post, Cosmopolitan, Elle, TIME, NYMag.com, the New Republic, the New Inquiry, Daily Beast, Vogue, and more. Rachel is the executive director of Break The Sex Myth, a feminist arts and community education organization that uses events, media, and facilitated conversation to fight stigma on the basis of gender and sexuality. www.thesexmyth.com
Dana Edell – Director
Dana is an activist-scholar-artist and the executive director of SPARK Movement, an intergenerational girls’ activist organization working towards anti-racist gender justice. She was the co-founder and executive director of of viBe Theater Experience (2002-2012) and has directed and produced more than 70 original theater productions and 7 albums of original music written and performed by girls and young women about social justice issues in theaters, in the street and at the United Nations.Through her writing, presentations and media appearances, she advocates for girls’ activism and the need for performing arts experiences for girls. Dana was co-chair of the Girls’ Participation Task Force at the UN and she teaches Theatre and Activism at NYU and CUNY.
Courtney Williams - Assistant Director
Courtney Gabrielle Williams is a Brooklyn based actress, mover and improviser. Originally from Oakland, CA she's always had an interest in exploring both contemporary and classical work. She is excited to be collaborating with Dana again as well as this awesome team of artists!
Isabel Quinzaños Alonso - Assistant Director/Stage Manager
Isabel is a director, educator, and administrator, who has worked in the UK, Switzerland, and her homeland, Mexico. She just moved to New York from London, where she was working as an Assistant Director and managing the Education Department at Out of Joint, a touring theater company based in the UK. Isabel trained in Theater Directing at Drama Centre London, and has an MA in Arts Administration and Cultural Policy from Goldsmiths University. A passionate feminist, and obsessive Microsoft Excel user, Isabel is always in search of the perfect doughnut.
Katie Eelman – Social Media & Communications
Katie Eelman is the media & events director at Papercuts J.P., an award-winning independent bookstore in Boston. She is also the co-founder and editor-in-chief of the store's publishing imprint, Cutlass Press. Katie is a passionate feminist, animal lover, and ice cream connoisseur.
Shanthony Exum – Graphic Designer/Artist in Residence
Shanthony Exum is a multimedia artist working across graphic design, illustration, street photography and rap. She hails from North Carolina and currently resides in Brooklyn. Her work has been featured on Huffington Post, Refinery 29, Glamour, Noisey (Vice) and Time Magazine.
Hanne Larsen – Founding Director
Hanne Larsen is a fifth-year theatre major at Northeastern University. She trained in voice, movement, and devised theatre, which influenced and inspired her work on THE SEX MYTH: A Devised Play. Previous Northeastern University credits include roles of Clara in The Phantom Lady, Chorus in columbinus, Angustias in The House of Bernarda Alba, and Becky in The Heidi Chronicles. She completed an internship with Urbanity Dance Company and is planning to also pursue dance. She is currently cast as Helena in Shakespeare's comedy of Midsummer Night's Dream.
We have a great selection of products and rewards designed to help you get involved in our growing movement, ranging from play rights, to creative coaching calls, to producer credits, original artwork, and ticket packages to our New York show. Here's a taste of some of the more design-oriented rewards we have on offer.
BREAK #THESEXMYTH STICKERS
Four limited-edition 2.5" by 2.5" clear vinyl “Break #TheSexMyth” stickers, designed by Shanthony Exum.
THE SEX MYTH PLAYBOOK
A digital copy of THE SEX MYTH: Playbook & Director’s Guide, an everything-you-need-to-know handbook to producing your own version of the play, authored by founding director Hanne Larsen.
PLEASURABLE IS POLITICAL T-SHIRT
Limited edition “The Pleasurable Is Political: Break #TheSexMyth” t-shirt in one of two colors, designed by Shanthony Exum.
SIGNED COPY OF THE SEX MYTH
THE SEX MYTH by Rachel Hills, signed by the author and personally dedicated to thank you for your contribution.
PLEASURABLE IS POLITICAL ART PRINT
A limited edition 24” by 36” “The Pleasurable Is Political” art print, signed by artist Shanthony Exum and printed on archival quality Hahnemuhle German Etching paper.