Trustus Theatre’s “Sex on Sunday” is an intimate play performed in an intimate setting by a very intimate cast.
Written by Chisa Hutchinson and directed by Eric Bultman, executive director of Sumter Little Theatre, the tale is one as old as a time. A dominatrix moves to an uptown address and tries to keep her conservative neighbors out of her private affairs.
The production stars Devin Anderson, 26, who you may have seen on stage a time or two … or three or four. This will be her first role since playing Osha in “Marcus or the Secret of Sweet,” the conclusion to playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney’s brother-sister bayou trilogy.
Q. When did you first hear about “Sex on Sunday?” What drew you to it?
A. I first heard about “Sex on Sunday” in early March. I was a little hesitant moving forward. As a matter of fact I read the script all the way through twice before I made up my mind about auditioning! This play is funny, sexy, pushes the envelope, and makes you question right versus wrong. I knew that I only wanted to play Laila because I felt that she deserved someone to find the more human side of her character – the side that people would be able to relate to.
Q. Considering the subject matter, did you have any reservations about the script?
A. I definitely had my reservations. African-American women at times tend to be hypersexualized, and I was afraid that this play was doing just that. However, after I read the script, I realized Laila is a woman that writes her own story and only lets certain people read certain parts. She doesn’t give up control in any aspect of her life, which proves to be problematic once the various points begin to overlap. She definitely is a woman of many faces, but that stems from the way society views her life style.
Q. How is the show staged? Costumed? What were both processes like?
A. This play is staged in somewhat of a thrust setting with the audience on three sides, and the set transitioning between apartment living and Laila’s lair. With it being a black box it is extremely intimate. Costuming was interesting because everyone has their own distinct look, and Laila has three very different looks. The process started off a little nerve-wracking for me, because I didn’t realize just how intimate this show was until I actually had to start working. For some reason my brain didn’t catch up with what was asked of me until the first rehearsal. The building process of this woman was complicated, because I almost had to come up with three different characters and figure out how they fit into one. Needless to say my director (Eric Bultman) and my castmates made it a lot easier.
Q. According to the description the show “challenges taboos on sex, race, relationships, gender, bias,” etc. Do you agree?
A. “Sex on Sunday” questions the status quo. First things first, Laila is a black professional dominatrix. That isn’t something “we” typically do, and if we do we definitely won’t let it be known. The biggest question is, what is socially acceptable, and how far does the “acceptable” line go before you become a deviant? Laila begins to ask these questions of herself because she crosses lines she usually wouldn’t even go near. As her multiple lives start to intersect, and secrets come out, she is the one labeled deviant. As a woman you are the one that is shamed and put down if you are a sexual being, where people tend to make excuses for men. Society says he’s just being a man, as if to say that most men lack self control, but as woman you should know better and do better. The question then becomes who is actually at fault here?
Q. What feeling or thought do you want the audience to walk away with?
A. We as a people never truly show who we really are for fear of being judged, or hurt, or both. A lot of time we deny ourselves friendships and love because we don’t think we will be fully accepted as we are. Laila eventually lets her guard down, but it is after the mess hits the fan. I hope the audience looks at her journey and sees that sometimes the secrets are more hurtful than truth. And that sexuality is not dirty, or something to hide. You do have to question though, if this is something that is hidden, why? There is a fine line between right and wrong, and at what point do you recognize that you are about to cross over into dangerous territory?
Dwaun Sellers, email@example.com
If you go
“Sex on Sunday”
WHEN: Various times Friday, July 7 through Saturday, July 15
WHERE: Trustus Theatre, 520 Lady St.
COST: $25, general admission; $20, students