The Mystery of Love & Sex – A Note from Artistic Director John Langs

From The Mystery of Love & Sex Encore

ACT Theatre Artistic Director John Langs. Photo by Alabastro Photography.
ACT Artistic Director John Langs. Photo by Alabastro Photography.

One of the great boundaries that has been broken at the beginning of this century is the right to love whom we choose. Although the battles are still being waged, it seems clear that tradition and dogma are giving way to the choice the heart makes about whom and how we love.

Coming of age in this more liberated time seems exhilarating, but as this play points out, freedom might not always make the path to love a smooth one. Although society may be more accepting or less prescriptive, we all have our own deep internal struggles based upon our identity, personal history, and familial expectations. Finding yourself, your voice, seems to me to be a lifelong effort, but never more immediate than when we are young, in those intensely-felt years that span high school and college when we simultaneously know nothing and everything; that moment when for the first time we’re able to make choices that will give our lives shape, but also put our young hearts at risk. This play is about that moment and the ramifications it has for our family, friends, and the world at large.

In my own experience, just this past year, I was introduced by my friend and his husband to their new girlfriend, as they formed a new family unit. Even as every intellectual part of myself identifies as accepting, open-minded, and ready to celebrate the new, I was in that moment surprised to find myself shocked, bewildered, and confused. The look on my face, I was told later, was like a reaction from a bad sitcom. Reflecting on these conflicting emotions, where change in the world collides with subconscious traditional expectations, I remembered the joy of this play-and why I felt so strongly about programming it for ACT Theatre.

By the end of this year, I will be a father to two children: one boy and one girl. I have never been more aware of the social climate that’s defining the next generation. It’s also challenging my generation toward acceptance, and to meet these changes with an open mind and heart.

I have certainly taken my own parents on an unexpected, and, for them, untraditional journey that I’m sure tested their patience and understanding. I expect the same will be true of my youngsters. In these days of change, it feels like the one and only constant is the primal human need for the acceptance and love of family.

It is into this well that Bathsheba Doran has dipped her pen, and out of it spread this beautiful play that honors all the complications of being a human and illuminates the power we all have to change, adapt, and find grace with whatever choices our loved ones make. Here’s to family. Thank you for being here.

John Langs, ACT Artistic Director

The Mystery of Love & Sex runs May 27-June 26, 2016 in ACT’s Allen Theatre. For more info, visit our website.

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