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Reform Magazine | November 15, 2019

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Just don’t do it

Just don’t do it

Kate Mounce found sex surrounded by silence in churches, so decided to make a show about it

A Christian summer camp. Two unmarried youth leaders give The Sex Talk to a group of teenage girls. It features personal stories, matriarchal mythology, singing, dancing and vulva puppets.

This is a fictional scene in the stageplay we recently took on tour, Just Don’t Do It. (The girls hearing the talk were played by the audience.) But such scenes are also something we remember from growing up in the church. Others have similar memories – we know this because the show was based on survey responses from women in the UK and US, and the ideology of the American evangelical purity movement, as well as our own experiences.

Just Don’t Do It was the basis of a project funded by the Arts Council, ‘Fear in Faith/Faith in Theatre: Performance as research into the mutually suspicious relationship between the modern Church and mainstream theatre’. A bit of a mouthful, granted! Beside Ourselves, a clown theatre company that I co-run with Eleanor Young, proposed to Arts Council England that we would use Just Don’t Do It, our debut show, to attract churchgoers into theatres and to encourage venue programmers to book faith-themed work.

Alongside the tour, we proposed to deliver what’s known as a hard-to-reach audience engagement strategy, because in Arts Council terms, churchgoers are not generally engaged with live, contemporary theatre. In the lead up to performances, we visited different churches. We spoke to church leaders and congregants about Just Don’t Do It, telling them we had made this show about sex and faith for them. We expected to meet with a level of resistance, even fear, when we told them that. In fact, we were often met with enthusiasm…

Kate Mounce is an actor and co-founder of Besides Ourselves, a clown theatre company

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This is an extract from an article that was published in the November 2019 edition of Reform

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