Monday, February 16, 2015
Spotlight On...Mark Bentley Cohen
Education: BA Creative Writing
Favorite Credits: Author Confessions of a Bisexual Husband, currently being represented by Lucas Hunt at Orchard Literary, NY.
Why theater?: As a writer I spend many hours every day working alone in a basement writing. I have no idea how readers are reacting to my book or articles while they're reading them. I don't get to hear them laugh or see their eyes tear up. Theater is the most powerful way for me to witness first-hand peoples' reaction to my work. After emerging from my writer's cave, the immediacy of being in a theater with other living people while they are experiencing the show is incredibly exhilarating.
Tell us about Bi, Hung, Fit... and Married: BHF+M is a challenging show. This is our story, but the themes of relationship stagnation and dissatisfaction are universal. As is the need for continued sexual growth and exploration. These are not easy issues for people to acknowledge and discuss, as they can appear to be very disruptive to one's life. And yet it is this very disruption which is needed to push through the build-up of debris clogging their relationships. The solution I offer is no less terrifying: to question the validity of monogamy is to question the very foundation of our social structure. There is a belief that without lifelong monogamy all will fall apart. Ironically, lifelong monogamy works for only a tiny portion of the population, with the rest of us feeling defective for not being able to live up to the dubious standard of one person for all eternity.
What inspired you to create Bi, Hung, Fit... and Married?: I knew there were many other bisexuals out there like me who felt as trapped, as guilty, as shameful and conflicted by their sexuality as I did. And I also knew that our experimentation with consensual non-monogamy was working very well for both of us. It had saved our marriage without a doubt. I had to tell people that this lifelong monogamy thing was much more difficult, uncomfortable, and unworkable than the alternative: consensual non-monogamy. What we had discovered was that pretty much everything we've ever been told about the joys of monogamy were actually the opposite of what was being claimed. This was not only workable, but advisable for many.
What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I too need to be challenged. I need new solutions to old problems; new ways of looking at the world, new stories told in new ways. The idea of one love, one life, one god, one love, one form of sexual expression, one way of organizing a relationship is no longer satisfying because that is not how we live our lives anymore. Relationship drama is often a central conflict, and we really only ever see the portrayal of one relationship narrative in our media, be it song, theatre, film, TV, literature or advertisement: boy + girl + love = forever. We've recently added a variation of boy + boy or girl + girl, or non-binary person + another, but the narrative has not changed at all: it's still about our ability/inability to live within the bounds of lifelong monogamy based upon the belief of one true love.
Gob Squad Arts Collective from Berlin is doing some very exciting theater, creating multi-media productions on the fly with audience participation being an integral part of the show. The blur the lines between life and art, what is real and what is not.
If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: I'd love to find a working theater collective, workshopping, playing, creating. I'm open to offers!
What show have you recommended to your friends?: The Little Orange Man is a local Vancouver production which blew my mind. Ingrid Hansen is a very talented performer. Her one-person show is a delight to experience: poignant, funny, scary and supremely creative in its theatricality. She does everything from puppetry to playing the guitar and singing, mime to eating bread and celery into shapes which she then uses as puppets. These are just some of her many skills!
Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: The movie would be called "A Life In Between", with Robert Sheehan as the star.
If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: I'd love to see the nude version of the Broadway play Hair.
What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Getting hot and heavy to hard Techno on the dance floor with all the boys and girls till the sun comes up.
If you weren’t working in theater, you would be ______?: Dying a slow and painful death at a desk.
What’s up next?: I'm working on my next book, Conflict Lake, which is a continuation of the first. I'm also working on the Ultimate Guide to Ejaculation Control, which should be completed soon. I'm excited about doing another play, and hoping to be going on a book-signing tour when my publisher finally finds me! Otherwise, more of the same!
For more on Mark, visit www.markbentleycohen.com. For more on Bi, Hung, Fit...Married, visit www.bihungfit.com