Once Upon a Lesbian: a future that is now

Once Upon a Lesbian: no touching, photo by Peter Taylor

A unique collaboration of writers, actors and directors, Leaping Thespians is a group of talented women who take turns in all of these roles, and it really works!

They perform together, create together, and from the look of this production, have a damn good time together. The script for Once Upon a Lesbian lends itself perfectly to this collaborative style with a number of independent yet related vignettes complementing the main story.

Set in the year 2369, two women (named Eight One and Three Six), are under the strict rule of the Hierarchy – laws like no touching or eye contact have been around so long they don’t even question the authority. If they disobey, chances are they could die from the NA1 virus. They are instructed to secure an unknown object which has been located in their area. Curiosity getting the better of her, Three Six opens the package, only to discover memories from the past. Scared and excited by what they see, they continue to explore, which leads to the questioning of their own present belief structures.

The presentation is very entertaining, each vignette portraying a different era of varying beliefs about lesbians and their status. This makes for some comical and some poignant scenes (in year 2169 when heterosexuality is frowned upon, for example, or in year 1980 during the planning of a lesbian “non-wedding” because it was still illegal for same-sex marriage to take place).  Many of the actresses play multiple rolls all of which are pulled off successfully.

Leaping Thespians was established to bring original lesbian stories to audiences. These stories are not just for lesbians however and the ideas will be of interest to all open minded people. In Once Upon a Lesbian the future seems bleak with non-tactile relationships – I wonder about our present use with the Internet creating that very type of non-human contact. Seeing Three-Six and Eight-One staring at their little hand computers, communicating with each other through their devices made me think of people these days, staring at their iPhones, texting all day long.

Three-Six and Eight-One had me covered in goosebumps when they finally realized they had the power to touch one another – how exciting that must have been after not coming into human contact for their entire lives. I sympathized with them, trapped in a world of incredibly constricted beliefs. Once Upon a Lesbian brings to us a possible future reality where the past is forgotten and people follow suggestions blindly, something many of us do even now. 

I hope groups like Leaping Thespians will thrive so that they can continue to shake things up and enable audience members to view the world with a fresh and open perspective well past the year 2369.

Once Upon a Lesbian continues until October 10th at the Havana Theatre. For more information interface in a non-tactile way here.

By Lianna Walden