“The Text Of Sex” written by Michele Aldin Kushner Interview by Maya Contreras.
The New York International Fringe Festival (FringeNYC) is the largest multi-arts festival in North America. It takes place annually in August over the course of two weeks on 20 stages spread across several Manhattan neighborhoods. FringeNYC (unlike other Fringe Festivals) uses a jury-based selection process to pick it’s 200 shows. One of those shows is “The Text Of Sex” written by playwright Michele Aldin Kushner.
Maya Contreras: What is the name of your show?
Michele Aldin Kushner: The Text of Sex.
MC: What is it about?
MAK: THE TEXT OF SEX is about A NYC Prep School student, Delilah, who’s arrested for sexing her boyfriend when her nude shot goes viral. Her father wants Delilah to give up the name the boy. Her best friend, who convinced her to take the photo, wants Delilah to dump the boy. Her exasperated mother wants Delilah to stop using her cell phone to communicate. Delilah wants the school, the District Attorney, and her parents to know that they all misunderstand her – more than they realize.
MC: What made you want to write about this particular subject?
MAK: I think it’s extraordinary that kids are growing up and exploring their sexuality with the technology of the Internet and mobile computer (the cell phone). Who wouldn’t? Adults are addicted to cell phones and texting. Children only follow their parents’ example. But kids are being penalized for using what is pervasive and at their disposal. Of course the legal system gets involved when something like sexting disrupts a school or community. However, our legal system has not caught up with our current conundrum of children behaving like adults. And in New York State a child of sixteen can be arrested for sexting: disseminating pornography to other underage children. This very law that is meant to protect kids is currently being used to prosecute them. That being said – I really wanted to write a story that includes the teen point of view – which – I think - still includes a place of innocence.
MC: What was the biggest hurdle for you writing this piece?
MAK: In writing THE TEXT OF SEX, I consulted with lawyers, including a NY District Attorney. I researched New York State laws on sexting/pornography charges regarding children, and continue to keep up with the many news pieces posted on teen sexting. However – my biggest challenge in writing this piece is asking the audience to accept the legal devices I chose to use in order to keep the play theatrical.
My second hurdle has been conveying that this is not a criminal procedure TV show (but I love those) or an after school special. It’s very much a play – designed to challenge all audiences, adults and teens; how do you cope with omnipresent technology?
MC: What did you enjoy most about the process of writing it?
MAK: I liked allowing the dad of the family to portray himself as the biggest a**hole possible (I tend to rally against the necessity of writing likeable characters in general). I liked writing his rants at his wife and child and pretty much anyone with whom he comes into contact. Because it felt perfectly justified. He is a man working to keep his head financially above water, isolated from his family, and heading for a breakdown.
MC: What does it mean to you to be a part of the New York Fringe Festival?
MAK: I’m proud! This is my third time producing one of my shows for FringeNYC. Fringe has given me the opportunity to show my work on a larger platform, in great theatres in front of great audiences and allows me to be a part of a larger movement of theatre – one in which people get to re-create the story they wish to tell.
Read more interviews by Maya Contreras at thebloodlineofshadrickgrace.com & dirtydurty.com.